Cisco’s Bob Pepper on Net Neutrality

by on March 22, 2007

Robert PepperBob Pepper, the senior managing director of global advanced technology policy at Cisco Systems, has penned an outstanding editorial on Net neutrality regulation in When Bob served as the FCC’s chief of policy development he was, in my opinion, the most brilliant and thoughtful regulator I ever had the chance to work with in my life. He had an appreciation of the benefits of markets that is still on display in this excellent editorial:

Looking ahead, Internet users and content/applications providers will continue to require more choice and flexibility in terms of service selection, service quality and price points. In contrast, new net neutrality regulation could have the perverse effect of degrading all levels of service or freezing in place the current state of providers and services. Companies would find it more difficult to differentiate themselves, offer new services, and enter new markets, a situation that would be anti-competitive and counterproductive for consumers.

Perhaps even worse, greater regulation would almost certainly squelch risk-taking, investment and inventiveness over the long term, as companies would lose incentives to form new ventures, alliances and services and explore new ways to create value consumers would want. Indeed, net neutrality regulation takes us down the wrong path of reduced competition, less consumer choice and greater government involvement and oversight.

To a large extent, the Internet has become so popular, successful and useful because it enriches and empowers people at the individual level. That spirit must not be jeopardized by ill-advised, untimely government regulations. Instead, it must be preserved as we go ever deeper into a new era of high-bandwidth applications and exciting new broadband services.

I hope Bob’s old colleagues over at the FCC are listening!

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