America's Unique Internet Success

Article excerpt

Byline: Scott Cleland, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A tech legislative priority of congressional Democrats, "net neutrality," threatens America's unique Internet success, because it would reverse America's 11-year, bipartisan policy to promote competition and not regulate the Internet.

Democratic presidential candidates Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, are co-sponsors of Dorgan-Snowe (S.215), a net neutrality bill that for the first time would mandate broadband provide equal treatment to all Internet content. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also supports net neutrality as does House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey, who plans a series of hearings soon to promote net neutrality legislation.

To justify massive new government intervention in the Internet marketplace, Democrats are busily manufacturing a "broadband crisis" and an "Internet blocking problem" that simply does not exist. Policymaking by false premise is always dangerous. It's downright irresponsible when it threatens to undermine the unregulated Internet, one of the key engines of our nation's economic and productivity growth.

Advocates of new net regulation or "net neutrality," have made up a "parade of horribles" to scare people into the arms of big government regulators. They breathlessly claim government price regulation is necessary to "save the Internet" from a hypothetical discrimination problem, which they can't define, prove or document. To advance their big-government agenda, these critics falsely claim there isn't enough broadband competition to protect consumers; America is falling behind the rest of the world on broadband; and broadband deployment is too slow in reaching all Americans. They are wrong on all counts.

Far from falling behind the rest of the world, America has more broadband connections and more Internet users than any other country. We lead the world in deployment and investment in competitive broadband facilities. America's pro-competition broadband policy has established more facilities-based broadband competition than any other country. As a result, Americans have a unique diversity of broadband access choices. And far from being slow, the rate of Internet and broadband adoption in the United States is happening faster than most any other communications service in U.S. history.

Behind America's unique Internet and broadband success has been a greater reliance on the free-market and deregulation than any other country. Lurking behind the calls for net neutrality is a big-government agenda that seeks greater European-style price regulation and larger subsidies for broadband under the guise of "public-private partnerships." Regulating the Internet would take away consumers' diversity of choices and freedom to choose the best Internet service for their individual needs. Outlawing competitive differentiation would also destroy any investment incentive to dynamically increase the Internet's capacity to handle video and exploding demand.

America has achieved unique Internet success from promoting competition and reducing regulation:

(1) The U. …