Fed regulation of the Internet? Remember the Bell System?
Listen To You Tell Me Texas Friday 2/20/15
The comic strip “Boombox” recently depicted this conversation.
Said the first character,
“Why are liberals so hot for gun control laws. Don’t they know that criminals don’t obey laws?”
The other one answered,
“Because it has the word ‘control’ in it.”
That instinct is indeed the hallmark of most liberal proposals and it extends now to the Internet. On February 26, the Federal Communications Commission is set to announce new regulations with respect to how you connect to the Web.
As is always the case, the proposed rules are cloaked in a benign-sounding label – in this case, “Net Neutrality.” The label is meant to fool you into thinking that the federal government will ensure that everyone has “equal” access to the Internet at “fair” prices. (They called it the Affordable Care Act don’t forget.)
For a glimpse of the regulated Internet future, consider the history of cable TV. It has been a mish-mosh dating back to the 1960s. In addition to FCC regulation, Congress often muddied the water. As just one example there’s the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992, which essentially undid the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984.
Today neither cable operators nor consumers are happy. Cable operators’ costs continue to climb, driven in large measure by the costs of federal regulation, and thus cable subscribers keep seeing their bills go up.
Between rate increases, the resulting consumer churn and protracted fights with local TV stations and national cable networks, the cable TV industry has been in more or less constant uproar for 20 years.
Meanwhile, the Internet has been pretty much free of federal regulation. Yes, there is much going on in Washington regarding the allocation of radio spectrum to accommodate the burgeoning demand for wireless access. Such is properly within the purview of Federal Communications Commission.
But that regulatory process has nothing to do with what you currently pay for Internet service. And if you’re like me, your Internet service is several thousand times faster than that dial-up modem you had in the 1990s and yet costs you less.
Access to the Internet has happened pretty much without the “help” of the federal government and I, for one, am not complaining. I keep finding that connection speeds are going up while costs are going down.
That this happened in a competitive free market beyond the control of federal bureaucrats is something the liberals now running our government cannot stand. Liberals love control and yet the biggest thing to happen in a century has happened without them. So the federal government now proposes to ride to the “rescue.”
Your Internet service is about to be regulated in the same way that your telephone service used to be. Give the old Bell System credit, it was steady and reliable. But if you’re old enough, you remember that “long distance” calls were expensive. Today, the term “long distance” is an anachronism.
The Internet isn’t broken. For Lord’s sake, let’s don’t let the federal government “fix it.”