Net Neutrality: Both Sides Make Some Ridiculous Claims

By Dave Burstein
Dave Burstein

We've all heard too much about NN, which I've been reporting for 20 years. I support it because I don't want Randall Stephenson of AT&T deciding what I should watch on TV. The long-run effect is negative.

The claims from some people who agree with me are ridiculous. "According to former FCC commissioner Michael Copps, ending net neutrality will end the Internet as we know it." Michael knows I respect him, but this is ridiculous. Equally unlikely is Pai's belief this will significantly raise investment. His evidence assumes that AT&T has a time machine. They had told Wall Street they were going to cut this well before anyone thought NN was to be killed. ("We pretty much finished the LTE build so we will reduce spending.")

The only major change likely in the next few years is some video will go up in price. The actual fights are about the cost of connection for high volumes of data, mostly video. The carriers would be very stupid raising those fees so high they made much of a difference. No one is going to redirect you and me from the N.Y. Times to Breitbart News. That would be almost impossible given that most of us will have 25 meg downloads and web surfing only requires a meg or so.

Pai could discover his error by listening to John Stephens, AT&T CFO, next Tuesday at UBS. CEO Randall claimed he would raise his $22B capex if NN died. 10% of that would be about $2B. He also said he would invest another $billion if he got the tax cut.

If they were going to live up to this, Stephens would almost be required by SEC rules to tell Wall Street capex was headed up to ~$25B. He won't, but Pai is so set in his beliefs he won't be able to believe that.

By Dave Burstein, Editor, DSL Prime. Dave Burstein has edited DSL Prime and written about broadband and Internet TV for a decade.

Related topics: Access Providers, Broadband, Net Neutrality, Policy & Regulation