The Problem with Title II Reclassification of the Internet in a Picture

by on May 6, 2010 · 6 comments

The FCC is toying with reclassifying broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. If the agency rolls back the regulatory clock in this fashion, it will be a huge step backwards for innovation, investment, and quality in this field. How is it that everyone suddenly has collective amnesia about the past that Title II gave us?  Doesn’t anyone remember getting their fingers pinched in black rotary dial phones of the Title II regulatory era?  I do.  Here’s what else that regulatory era gave us: Stagnant markets. Limited choice. Lackluster innovation. What else would you expect when you have price controls, rate-of-return proceedings, state PUC meddling, protected markets, etc. And despite all this revisionist history about Title II “protecting consumers,” the past it gave us was viciously anti-consumer and pro-regulated entity.

Is that the future you want for the Internet and the digital economy?  That’s what’s at stake in this fight.  Just say NO to a Rotary Dial Internet!

  • sjschultze

    Adam, how disappointing. I rely on you to provide some of the best-reasoned arguments on this issue, but this analogy is really awful. Black rotary phones disappeared as a RESULT of Title II authority that allowed the FCC to prevent telecoms from restricting users to only proprietary devices (thus permitting device innovation and choice). Title II gave us the explosion of the consumer Internet, largely on the back of non-discriminatory dialup + third-party modems (and ISP competition). It's not like Carterfone is going away.

    Incidentally, have you ever seen the AT&T sponsored display in the lobby of the DC Federal Courthouse? Somewhat ironically, it includes a Hush-A-Phone.

  • Ingenjören

    This is perhaps the sadest straw man of the day. It is sad because you really should, or perhaps even do, know better.

  • pat b

    Sounds like you are fighting for Monopolism. Common Carrier status allows
    information services to fight on an equal footing. Without Net Nuetrality,
    what prevents Microsfot from paying Verizon to mess with Google queries.

    It's bad enough when I make a typo, the Verizon search engine leaps in, instead
    of a 404 error

  • anni oakley

    Re; Rotary Phone and gov regs are the only way to innovation?

  • Max

    “That regulatory era” paved the way fax machines and modems and provided us with some of the greatest innovations in telecommunication history. Perhaps we have a different idea of “stagnant”. Could you elaborate on why reclassification was such a failure?

  • Max

    “That regulatory era” paved the way fax machines and modems and provided us with some of the greatest innovations in telecommunication history. Perhaps we have a different idea of “stagnant”. Could you elaborate on why reclassification was such a failure?

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