Saturday, December 5, 2015

Title II Common Carrier Regulation is "Inept" Says Martin Geddes

The wrong analogies and metaphors, as consultant Martin Geddes points out, can be hazardous, even if the right metaphor can help clarify the logic of a position. Consider “paid prioritization,” one aspect of “network neutrality” that is controversial.

Geddes attended the District of Columbia court hearing on the Federal Communications Commission's "Open Internet" rules, commonly referred to as the imposition of Title II common carrier regulation.

Asks Geddes; “The existence of 'fast lanes' must mean everything else becomes a 'slow(er) lane'. Is this a good or bad thing?”

“We already have ubiquitous and uncontroversial paid peering,” Geddes notes. Apparently one justice also asked questions by way of analogy. “The railroads were at liberty to charge for refrigerated containers for goods that needed special handling, so it seems ‘utterly reasonable’ that ISP should be able to do the same,” Geddes reports.

Indeed, "users who create a cost should bear that cost,” a line of reasoning that also bears on the matter of metered usage, one might argue.

“All other transport businesses have tiered services that align price and cost to timeliness of delivery,” Geddes notes.  “The FCC is pushing a hypothetical ‘dread’ which has absolutely no factual substance behind it, and has lost tremendous credibility as a regulator as a result.”

“Banning a market for quality is an anti-innovation policy,” says Geddes. “It creates a distortion by preventing rational resource pricing through market mechanisms. A simple general rule on equal access to paid priority is plenty enough.”

“The Title II reclassification is an attempt to constrain ISP power, but is a politically, technically and economically inept one,” Geddes argues. His reflections on the D.C. court hearing are here.  

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