The USA, which invented the Internet, is 43rd in world Internet speed, behind Estonia. High-speed broadband access costs three times as much in the US as in the UK and France, more than five times as much as in South Korea. There are only a few broadband providers in the US, and 30% of Americans can only choose one due to monopoly local access rules. So naturally, instead of upgrading their networks to world standards, American Internet Service Providers plan to selectively slow down Web access unless customers cough up even more dough.
The FCC has been considering allowing the “Internet Fast Lanes” and opened proposed regs for public comment. 4 million outraged citizens told them to shove it.
President Obama has reasonably observed that Web access is a basic utility today and should be regulated like a utility. Naturally Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner Cable, and AT&T are foaming at the mouth. They argue that regulation would stifle innovation, as if their strong-arm tactics haven’t clearly done that already (see “Estonia,” above). Republicans are raging against the Net Neutrality proposal, partly because big corporations fund campaigns but mostly because Obama is for it. But the FCC is an independent agency, theoretically insulated from presidential and congressional pressure, but a few protesters sat at the foot of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s driveway, blocking his car, so he’d have a better understanding of bandwidth throttling.
“President Obama Urges FCC to Implement Stronger Net Neutrality Rules,” Ezra Mechaber, White House Blog
“Obama’s big net neutrality announcement, explained,” Timothy B. Lee, Vox
“Tim Wu says Obama’s net neutrality plan is ‘bold, courageous, and just obvious,'” Nilay Patel, The Verge
“Ted Cruz’s Net Neutrality Take Isn’t Just Dumb, It’s Dangerous,” Kate Knibbs, Gizmodo
“The legal arguments against a leading net neutrality proposal are weak,” Timothy B. Lee, Vox
Obama to the FCC: Adopt ‘the strongest possible rules’ on net neutrality, including Title II,” Brian Fung , Washington Post
“President Obama urges FCC to ban paid internet ‘fast lanes,’” Anne Flaherty, AP via PBS
“Obama calls for more regulation of Internet providers, industry fires back,” Fox News
“Obama’s Net Neutrality Push,” Ed Kilgore, Washington Monthly
“Obama’s Plan to Save the Internet,” Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo
“Barack Obama’s support for net neutrality sets precedent for the rest of the world,” Alex Hern, The Guardian
“The FCC Fires Back At the President’s Net Neutrality Plan,” Alex Wilhelm, TechCrunch
“Obama’s Net Neutrality Statement Will Start a War on K Street,” John B. Judis, The New Republic
“Why the Public Utility Model Is the Wrong Approach for Internet Regulation,” Larry Downes, Harvard Business Review
“By Backing Net Neutrality, Obama Delivers Blow to Corporate Giveaways,” Rebecca Leber, The New Republic
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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
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