Sunday, February 22, 2015

Thune Should Back Off And Let The FCC Move Forward With Its "Net Neutrality" Plan.

     I like Netflix Streaming and don't care for the prospect of my internet service provider
Seems Like A Reasonable Idea
The FCC Approach Guarantees It.  Thune's Approach?  Not So Sure.
(photo from
being able to charge Netflix more money for faster delivery of its content to me.
Eventually that extra cost will be passed on to me, the Netflix customer.  But even more galling? Some of the other content I get will be slower than my Netflix Streaming.  That stinks.  This is what the "net neutrality" imbroglio is all about and it doesn't bother me that the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., is about to implement a set of rules keeping the status quo intact.  Our Senator John Thune doesn't like the idea. I can understand his reasoning.  Playing the "over-reaching regulatory approach" card, he has been doing all he can to block the FCC from putting its proposals into place and has an alternate set of mandates that he would like to apply as a substitute for what the FCC has in mind.

     What the FCC has in mind is impossible to know at this point.  That kind of bugs me, but apparently it's standard procedure for the Commission to implement a plan before telling the public about its details.  As the Commission's vote on this is scheduled to take place later this week, we'll soon know its details.  The conventional thinking seems to be that the FCC will vote for the plan, given that the Commission has a Democratic majority and that the plan has President Obama's backing.  
     Because Thune's 11-point proposal, linked above, seems to cover all the territory needed to assure net neutrality, you wonder what all the brouhaha is about.  Looks to me like the point of contention is in how the respective standards are to be applied.  The FCC wants its plan to be a new section of the Communications Act of 1934, which would guarantee net neutrality, per FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.  Thune's proposals would be put into place independently of the Communications Act, probably requiring enforcement mechanisms that may or may not be as stringent and easily applied as those proposed by the FCC.  The complexity of all this can perhaps be simplified if you know that the large service providers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile among them)
No Kidding
I Think The FCC Will Know How To Deal With This
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oppose the FCC plan
and that its supporters are generally consumer groups and internet application companies like Yahoo and Google. Oh, and you can add Netflix to that group of supporters of strong FCC oversight of net neutrality.

     My take?  Go with the surest method of making net neutrality the law of the land. That means the FCC's approach, which seems clear and unequivocal, is the best way to do this.  I just don't want an internet where some content comes to me at higher speed than other content. Thune's argument that the FCC's proposal will stifle innovation doesn't stand the test of history, as a free and wide-open internet with equal access to everyone has probably been the most innovative medium of our lifetimes. I see from Thune's list a set of bullet points that sound good, but don't see him attaching a mechanism that ensures compliance. Cumbersome, intrusive and overreaching as the FCC plan may well turn out to be, it ensures net neutrality. Thune's counter-proposal comes with no such guarantee.  
     The FCC, which over the decades has regulated common communications in a reasonably efficient and satisfactory manner, makes its decision at the end of this week (2/26). The standards it seeks to apply in pursuit of net neutrality are likely to work out just fine.

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