Form of Internet Access Task Force: FTC Group to Examine Net Neutrality

Deven Desai

Deven Desai is an associate professor of law and ethics at the Scheller College of Business, Georgia Institute of Technology. He was also the first, and to date, only Academic Research Counsel at Google, Inc., and a Visiting Fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy. He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley and the Yale Law School. Professor Desai’s scholarship examines how business interests, new technology, and economic theories shape privacy and intellectual property law and where those arguments explain productivity or where they fail to capture society’s interest in the free flow of information and development. His work has appeared in leading law reviews and journals including the Georgetown Law Journal, Minnesota Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, and U.C. Davis Law Review.

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5 Responses

  1. KipEsquire says:

    “Rather it seems that more concrete examples or perhaps in this case more robust theoretical explanations and models are needed to make the case.”

    Okay: Wireless telephony follows the pricing equivalent of Net Neutrality. Cable television does not and charges both subscribers and content providers for access.

    Which has been the better “competitive and innovative” success story over the past twenty or so years?

  2. Deven Desai says:

    First, I am not sure that wireless really is neutral but if I understand you correctly you are pointing to a pricing matter which may be neutral. Can you explain a little more on that one?

    It seems to me that different wireless standards are in play and wireless carriers now do charge for differenet data use. They just have not discriminated on content costs, yet. As I do not claim to know the ins and outs of the wireless industry I’d love to know more about how they are neutral or not.

    Next, assuming that wireless is neutral as you describe, it seems you are suggesting that wireless is less competetive and innovative but you may be offering the question in general. If it is a general offering, what do you think?

  3. Jim Harper says:

    It’s good of you, Deven, to invite careful arguments in favor of net neutrality regulation. It may be telling that the first response is, roughly, “Duh! Isn’t it obvious?!”

  4. Jack S. says:

    Perhaps a big difference in the wireless market is both consumer and provider choice. If I don’t like the services/price offered by a network provider I can switch relatively easily. If a data provider doesn’t like a network they may also switch and if their content is popular they can take consumers with them.

    In the provision of wired lines, there is little if any competition. There are 2 choices if you discount satellite for it’s high prices and poor upload rates. Cable or DSL. That’s the consumer side. Speeds have remained relatively stagnate over the last few years and price has budged little. Moreover, as the government is phasing out surcharges that help finance POTS for people who cannot afford to pay regular rates, providers like Verizon are inventing new surcharges. There is also little if any transparency in their pricing and why should they be? They have no competition.

    From the content providers side, their problem is similar. Their packets must flow via the existing networks which does not have an infinite set of paths. Packets must still pass through the monopolized pipes and these packets under a non NN system will have to pay the troll at each bridge.

    Perhaps the FTC should look at highly deregulated markets with large amounts of competition to figure out what’s going wrong in the US. Speeds have increased dramatically in Europe (try 25Mbs) and prices have followed. Voice, TV and ultra high speed access go for less than 30 euros/month. The pricing is also transparent. 30 euros does not mean 30 euros + 20 euros in hidden surcharges. Network providers are given access to the various infrastructures of the formerly nationalized telcos (the PTT’s). This is something that has been non existent in the US..even though the telco’s have been pseudo nationalized through territorial carving of markets and government subsidies.

    The questions being asked seem very fishy when those who currently control the networks are asking for what? More control.

    While the Google’s and MS’s will have to ‘suck it up’ and pay the toll, small content providers may never have the chance to hit the big times because they won’t be able to afford the rates that the network providers will provide. Would YouTube have made it big so fast if the net was not neutral? Maybe not, since there would have been a lot of irritated users who felt like the bits were being sucked through a very tiny straw since YouTube didn’t have the cash to pay for a higher packet speed.

    Have the proponents of regulation stated how this will benefit the consumers and competition in general? That is what the policy of the Sherman and Clayton Acts are? no?