Holman Jenkins has a stinging editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled, “Neutering the ‘Net,” which borrows a term that my friend Randy May coined long ago to describe what net neutrality regulation will ultimately accomplish. What I like best about the Jenkins essay was the way he exposed Free Press for their hypocrisy over metering as a possible alternative approach to network management, something I documented in this piece and this piece about their new-found love of Internet price controls. Here’s how Jenkins puts it in his essay today:
The mask really slipped earlier this year when Time Warner Cable began experimenting with usage-based pricing to protect the average broadband customers from the 20% of users who create 80% of the traffic. A lobby called Free Press, the most extreme of the pro-net neutrality interests, went ballistic, calling metered pricing a “price-gouging scheme” and backing a bill in Congress to ban it. Never mind that Free Press had previously argued just the opposite, saying usage-based pricing was a fairer way to deal with congestion than, say, by selectively slowing down file-sharing sites that gobble up disproportionate broadband capacity. Never mind, too, the irony that the net-neut campaign against the selective slowing of non-urgent traffic has left only differential pricing as a way to bring a modicum of efficiency to network usage.