My New Op-ed: “The Internet as the Post Office?”

October 13, 2009

I produced a new, brief, and different op-ed against the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules that ran in BigGovernment.com today, that employs a new “delivery” metaphor that I believe most people will easily grasp and find compelling.

The Internet as the Post Office?

by Scott Cleland

Why force the private Internet to be as inefficient as the old public post office? For the first time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) plans to regulate how private companies can deliver the quadrillions of broadband Internet packets that are sent over the Internet every day.

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Americans know from experience that private companies competing for customers deliver better service than Government. Who thinks the Government can do a better job than private companies in designing, building, and managing broadband Internet networks? Who thinks the Government can run the Internet better, faster, cheaper, and more innovatively than private networks do now?

The pretext for this new government micromanagement is — that without new Federal regulation — private companies might not treat all broadband Internet packet deliveries equally and might even discriminate against certain Internet packets by delivering them slightly slower than others or not even deliver them at all. The proposed FCC regulations would force all different types of Internet packets to be delivered the same, would empower the FCC to monitor all Internet packet delivery for “neutrality,” and put the Federal Government in charge of how private companies design and manage their broadband Internet networks.

This FCC proposal is as silly as if the Federal Government regulated the billions of packages that Fedex, UPS, DHL and local delivery services deliver every year, because they might deliver some packages slightly slower than others, or because they might refuse to deliver un-economical or unsafe deliveries. Does the Federal government not have anything better to do than monitor the mind-boggling minutia of Internet packet delivery times for fairness? How many private Internet delivery options will survive, if the Government forces all of them to be like the FCC’s inefficient public option?

Why not let urgent broadband Internet packets be delivered before non-urgent Internet packets? Why not let private companies charge more for faster delivery, for bigger packages, or to guarantee delivery of fragile or high priority packages? Why not let private companies protect their customers, networks and businesses by refusing to deliver particularly burdensome, dangerous or harmful packages?

Who cares if private delivery services deliver one Internet package slightly ahead of another in the marketplace? What people care about is efficiency, speed, low-cost and a diversity of choice.

The Internet is not broken or in need of FCC fixing. Why gamble unnecessarily with one of the only healthy and stable sectors of the economy? Why tamper with what works exceptionally well? Why propose a solution in search of a problem?

Simply, who believes the Federal Government can run, build and improve the Internet better than all the private companies that have built and operated the Internet to date?

 

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