FCC to lower standards for broadband

In rejecting the existing net neutrality policy, the FCC argued that getting rid of the government protections would improve innovation. It takes some creativity and a narrow view to take this position, but the Republican members of the FCC were willing to try.

An important pro-neutrality argument was that online access cannot be considered a traditional business subject to market pressures because there is so little actual competition. Hence, users do not really have the opportunity to reject the policies of a given provider if no or few realistic competitors are available.

It appears that the FCC has found a way to address this concern. The FCC is moving to lower the definition of broadband access. In a world where U.S. internet opportunities already lag behind other developed countries, the government here is now lowering rather than raising standards. If you struggle to watch Netflix on your existing broadband, just wait until you try with the new standards.

I have written about the logic of this adjustment previously and it relies upon the idea that much online access uses cell phones. The bandwidth you can access with your phone does not come close to the bandwidth you can likely use with your cable or phone company provider (usually at least 25 Mpbs down and most providers are already pushing more expensive higher bandwidth plans as more useful). Also neglected in this position is the reality that data plans are expensive and most “all you can eat” data plans do not allow using the phone as a wifi hotspot.

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