The priority for Congress in the Wednesday hearing to to draw a bright line between network projects in legitimate need of federal support for construction, technical capacity development, and backhaul and those, like Loveland, that are simply vanity projects.
The way forward is to prioritize urgent needs over long term visions. In cases where a new wireline network is the only solution that will get a rural community online, of course that network needs to be all fiber and potentially symmetrical. But such cases are rare.
As the pandemic starts to fade, we won’t return to the old normal but we’ll reach a new normal with more broadband of all kinds, especially mobile, with less TV watching. Against that background, the efforts of Congress to shore up the old normal are going to fail.
The inquiry will need to determine whether these deals were made for legitimate purposes (such as increasing efficiency and product quality) or for illegitimate ones, such as stifling budding competitors to better control markets. Now that the blush is off the tech rose, this is going to be an interesting inquiry.
So we have a number of issues that may or may not be lawful but are pretty clearly unfair and anti-competitive. What’s Congress going to do about platform power and competition? This question remains to be answered, but the podcast suggests a good way for it to start.
Net neutrality is an odd issues because it correctly identifies some problems that do take place on the Internet – blocking, throttling, and leveraging platform dominance – while attributing them to the wrong parties. I
None of the proposals for ISP regulation or platform regulation currently in the mix are very good. If the Internet is good for anything, it’s a great disruptor. Is is too much to ask it to disrupt its own policy frameworks toward the goal of producing more of the good and less of the bad?