“There is little dispute that the Internet should continue as an open platform,” notes the Federal Communications Commission. Yet in a curious twist of logic, the FCC has moved to upend the rules yielding that outcome, imposing “network neutrality” regulations on broadband-access providers. The new mandates purport to prevent Internet “gatekeepers” by prohibiting networks from favoring certain applications.
In this comprehensive Broadside, Thomas W. Hazlett explains the faulty economic logic behind the FCC’s regulations. The “open Internet”—thriving without such mandates—allows consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs to choose the best platforms and products, testing rival business models. Networks are actively (and efficiently) involved in managing traffic and promoting popular applications, making the entire ecosystem more valuable. This is a spontaneous market process, not a planned structure, and the commission’s restrictions threaten to stifle innovation and economic growth.