I’ve been steaming about Net Neutrality for a week now. I think I’m as upset about this as about anything Trump has done so far. I’m not sure why. Despite prognostications that the Internet will suddenly drastically change without Net Neutrality, it’s pretty unlikely.
Yes, ISP’s have tried to throttle traffic in the past — Netflix seems to be a particular target — but I don’t think it’s likely to happen on a wide scale, at least anytime soon. First, the optics of that would be terrible and people would call for a return of net neutrality and this would be an ultimate loss for ISPs. Second, it’s not as if you won’t be able to get Netflix, or Google or Amazon or other companies overnight, and those companies could pay anyway. Two things would happen without net neutrality: 1) prices for faster lanes would get passed onto consumers and 2) startups would have a harder time competing.
Those are both bad, but they miss the point. Because despite the argument, this isn’t actually about Net Neutrality for the ISPs. This is about price regulation. See, when the FCC was denied authority to enforce Net Neutrality via their old framework, they reclassified ISPs under a different regulation, which essentially classified them as monopoly telephone companies. This gives the government the ability to control way more than net neutrality, most notably by controlling prices.
Now, ISPs are about the most hated companies in the country. They’re more hated than any company since, well, the old telephone monopolies. Terrible service, inflated prices and a poor product tend to do that. I think ISP’s are terrified that the government will step in and say “you don’t get to charge $50 for broadband that’s so slow it doesn’t actually qualify under the definition of broadband.”
So maybe ISPs are right to be scared. We can leave the debate for whether they SHOULD be regulated for another time. But I think what’s bothering me so much is just the sheer audacity of the lies they’re telling to make it even slightly palatable to their base. Let’s be clear, this is really unpopular. The lies are not intended to convince everyone they’re right. They’re just intended to give the conservative media a point they can defend so they have SOME support in their corner.
Let’s be clear. Nobody believes that telling monopolies and duopolies that they can’t discriminate against websites that consumers are trying to reach is “micromanaging the internet.” The “analyses” showing that broadband investment is down are transparently slanted to show a trend that isn’t there.
The fact is, this is just another example of President Moneybags selling out to rich donors and lobbyists and acting against the interests of Americans. And as long as he can keep his base focused on guns, gays, abortion, God and immigration, he can get away with whatever the hell he wants. I wonder if they’re ever stop buying it.