I am digging deeper into the Federal Communications Commission’s rationale for its net neutrality order and quite frankly I am starting to feel like the character Mr. Spock from the original Star Trek series. Every now and then, Mr. Spock would engage in a mind meld with another being in order to read their thoughts. This usually involved placing his fingers on their heads and getting real close to them. “My mind to your mind” I believe was the phrase.
The problem with the mind meld was that for a very rational Mr. Spock, prolonged contact with an erratic or irrational mind could result in him being dragged down into the psychotic abyss of the other being, with Mr. Spock running the risk of totally losing his own sense of self. The trick was to break free at the last possible second. So as the music built up to a crescendo, Captain Kirk or Dr. McCoy would intervene and pull Mr. Spock away from his subject. Made for good TV, I admit.
Unfortunately the FCC did not break free from its mind meld with net neutrality supporters and this is not TV.
Specifically, the FCC’s rationale for its anti-paid prioritization stance is baseless. In its net neutrality report and order, the FCC states that broadband access providers have incentives to charge providers of edge services inefficient fees.
Edge service providers would be companies that sell online file storage services, video streaming, and access to applications online.
Too bad the FCC’s mind melding with groups like Free Press and Color of Change has led to a revisionist view of regulatory economics 101 and a contradiction of how the FCC views broadband.
The FCC states in the order that “[L]ike electricity and the computer, the Internet is a “general purpose technology.“ General purpose technology is just a fancy way of saying raw material. If that is the case, then why won’t the FCC follow the model of public utility commissions that regulate electric companies?
Electric companies are allowed to assess rates based on whether the user is residential, commercial, or industrial. If the FCC is going to regulate how a broadband provider handles its traffic, why not allow broadband access providers and edge services providers to enter paid prioritization agreements, setting in effect higher rates in exchange for the flow of greater traffic?
Instead of following a clear, true, and tried model of regulation that balances the reality of a monopoly or duopoly provider with the varying levels of end user needs, the FCC prefers to espouse an unfocused and irrational train of thought espoused by a small group of content providers with a limited and harmful agenda.
It’s time to break the mind meld.