Friday, July 14, 2017

Incumbent legacy telcos, cablecos don't fear "net neutrality." Title II monopoly regulation is the real concern.

Net Neutrality and Broadband Investment for All - Morning Consult: A wise Federal Communications Commission chairman noted that “the best decision government ever made with respect to the internet was … NOT to impose regulation on it.” Who said that? Republican Chairman Ajit Pai? Republican Chairman Kevin Martin? No, it was Bill Kennard, the Democratic chairman appointed by President Bill Clinton. Kennard’s smart, future-focused, pro-innovation and pro-consumer philosophy — followed by chairmen of both parties for two decades — established an investment-friendly regulatory climate that resulted in more than $1.5 trillion in broadband network investment, and with it, America’s world-changing internet technologies, applications and services. Kennard’s words remain as true today as they did in 1999. Pai’s plan to unwind the 2015 Open Internet Order, which regulated broadband service like an early 20th century telephone monopoly, is the right start.

The thing is telecommunications infrastructure is a natural monopoly regardless of whether it's plain old telephone service (POTS) over copper or based on Internet communications protocol delivered over fiber to the premise (FTTP). It's simple microeconomics. Infrastructure a labor intensive, high cost proposition and as such will never attract many sellers due to the high cost barriers to entry. While some degree of redundancy is beneficial to ensure network reliability, it would make no sense and be uneconomic to have many providers installing multiple infrastructures to serve communities and customer premises.

The above item by the president and CEO of the telecom industry trade group USTelecom shows the industry isn't as concerned about so-called "net neutrality" rules requiring all Internet protocol traffic be afforded equal carriage. Rather, the real fear is monopoly regulation.

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