I agree to Idea Regulate in areas where it is needed; do not prohibit innovations that would help consumers
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I disagree to Idea Regulate in areas where it is needed; do not prohibit innovations that would help consumers

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Idea#103

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Regulate in areas where it is needed; do not prohibit innovations that would help consumers

This "big idea"/"best practice" actually originated with the FCC's own Chairman. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski stated at the Congressional hearing on Thursday that the FCC should allow competition to solve problems whenever possible, and regulate only if there is market failure.

The FCC should, for example, regulate the pricing of "special access" lines, because the ILECs are using high prices for these lines to cripple competition and drive up prices to consumers. This market has failed and there is no simple way to create competition (certainly not in the timeframe in which we hope that broadband will be ubiquitous); therefore regulation is appropriate.

By the same principle, should not regulate ISPs' network management practices because they are not a problem. No US carrier dares to censor the Internet, because consumers have many alternatives. Competitive markets would quickly remedy any practice which consumers considered to be a problem.

Regulating only where necessary insures that consumers can benefit from innovation (not only technological innovation but also innovative business models) and that practices which are not good for consumers are not "locked in" by regulation.

The FCC's regulatory "muscle" should not be wasted on areas where there is no actual problem, despite the cries of Washington's corporate lobbyists who hope to give their companies an advantage via regulations that favor them. The FCC's authority and energy must be focused on real problems, including the market failures in "special access" and spectrum.

Submitted by broadband 4 years ago

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Comments (2)

  1. I agree that the FCC should not regulate where there is no need (i.e., market failure). I also agree that ISPs' network management practices should not be regulated -- not that they can under the Communications Act, which gives the FCC no explicit authority to regulate Internet access.

    If the FCC can stretch its jurisdiction to extend to the types and frequency of packets being sent over an Ethernet connection, then it would also have to regulate the practices of companies such as Apple and Google, and that is simply not going to happen, politically or legally.

    With regard to "special access" lines, why should the FCC regulate telcos' offerings but not impose similar regulations on other companies that can or should offer such services -- such as cable companies, satellite operators, and wireless broadband providers (licensed and unlicensed)? It seems to me that the physical route from a cellsite to a switch or router at another location isn't the subject of a natural monopoly held by the telco.

    4 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed
  2. broadband Idea Submitter

    Michael:

    You are correct that if an entity other than a telephone company exerts market power over the lines that are necessary to reach the Internet backbone, it may be appropriate to regulate that entity as well.

    For example, in many cities -- including ours -- Level3 Communications has fiber running through town but refuses to serve the local community by providing connectivity to the Internet. (In the case of my city of Laramie, Wyoming, it actually owns THREE backbones running through or near town; it built one and acquired the other two, which were originally owned by Wiltel and Broadwing.) Along one of those backbones, there is a building -- right at the edge of town -- which is fully equipped to be a network point of presence, complete with dozens of co-location cages.

    Yet, the company will not provide us with bandwidth from this facility at any reasonable price. When we approached them, they first denied the existence of the facility. When we went so far as to SHOW THEM PICTURES -- including pointing it out on satellite maps -- they finally agreed to quote us a price on bandwidth from the facility.

    But the quote was absurd. They insisted that we, a small, local business, pay them tens of thousands of dollars upfront and a similar amount PER MONTH, for far more bandwidth than we needed or could afford to buy. They wouldn't even agree to let us buy a smaller amount of bandwidth at the start and increase to more later.

    In short, it was really no "offer" at all, becuase they knew we could never accept it.

    We have heard similar stories from other rural areas in Wyoming and elsewhere. Level3 is "redlining" all but the largest cities.

    It seems reasonable that large backbone providers, which use local right of way (generally at little or no cost), should be required to serve the areas through which they pass.

    4 years ago
    0 Agreed
    0 Disagreed