My esteemed colleague and good friend Tom Howarth has posted about the recent FCC decision here in the US. Tom articulated an opening statement that is worth repeating:
“On February 26 in a groundbreaking announcement, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed in a 3 – 2 vote to recognize the rights of two southern US cities (Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Wilson, North Carolina) to build their own publicly owned high-speed Internet networks in areas where incumbents had refused to invest in modern infrastructure to support high-speed broadband connectivity.”
Tom continued in his article to say that 75% of US citizens have little or no access to at least the speeds “that we in the UK would consider slow.” I would respectfully disagree with those figures, considering that 81% of the US population resides in cities or suburbs, where high-speed Internet access is readily available.
I will be the first to concede the specific point of his post, that communities are now able to build their own networks and infrastructure to the Internet. This could have been done without the government takeover of the Internet. The FCC announced these super-secret regulations to allow the government takeover of the Internet, because the FCC had tried and failed to do this in both 2010 and 2011. In both cases, the courts vacated the Commission’s net neutrality rules. After all, the government already took over health care and a sixth of the economy while at the same time engaging in the biggest fail in IT history with the rollout of healthcare.gov. It should be required reading for the engineers of tomorrow on how not to do a rollout. Now, this same government has just taken over the Internet. Hey, no worries: they are the government and they are here to help. What could possibly go wrong?
These 300+ pages of new super-secret regulations have yet to be published. Once again, we have to pass it to see what’s in it, and none of us have had the opportunity to read these new rules. With no concrete facts to work from, I will give speculation a shot. First, I am not sure the FCC decision is going to make it through the courts. It has had had two prior net neutrality attempts vacated to date. No matter what you decide to call it, a rose is still a rose.
I believe the cost of Internet access will go up just like our phone bills. Like phone bills, the Internet bills will be filled with tax after tax. I think the government looks at this as a money-making machine, and that it wants control over all of it. As far as bringing on more competition, let me ask my fellow US citizens: how much choice do you have when it comes to other “utilities,” like power or water? On top of that, is net neutrality going to get rid of the current paid tier approach to speed, or will all of us who pay extra for faster speeds be required to accept a much slower connection so that everyone has equal speed? Does this latest government takeover give the NSA, CIA, and every other alphabet agency an increasingly direct route into our homes and lives?
With the utmost respect to Tom, I must respectfully disagree that this FCC announcement is a good thing for the US. Quite frankly, I believe that it’s going to be the end of the Internet as we know it, and that we’ll end up turning the “Third-World Internet nation of the US” into a bigger “Third-World Internet nation.” I want to repeat that I do concede that Tom may have found the only good, or one of a few goods, to come from this announcement. Overall, in my opinion, this is government overreach in a quest for total control of the population, and it will be more bad than good. Time will tell, if the courts don’t vacate it first.