Ridiculous Arguments: Net Neutrality Would Mean No iPhones
from the oh-come-on dept
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I’m very much against enforcing net neutrality through legislation (too many unintended consequences) but I’m stunned at the ridiculous and totally bogus reasons given by those fighting against those regulations in support of their claims. The latest on this front is Stephen Titch, a policy analyst at the Reason Foundation (a group whose work I usually think is quite good), coming out with a policy brief making the ludicrous argument that network neutrality would mean no more iPhones.
Now that’s a bold claim, and such a bold claim should require at least some evidence to back it up. But there is none. This is as far as it seems to get:
The non-discrimination principle that Genachowski seeks to mandate would prohibit service providers such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint from using their network resources to prioritize or partition data as it crosses their networks so as to improve the performance of specific applications, such as a movie or massive multiplayer game. Yet quality wireless service is predicated on such steps. The iPhone, for example, would not have been possible if AT&T and Apple did not work together to ensure AT&T’s wireless network could handle the increase in data traffic the iPhone would create.
There’s a neat little trick in there that hides the blatant falsehood of the premise. What’s described in the first sentence as what would be banned is not the same thing that’s described in the second sentence as what AT&T and Apple did. Furthermore, the first sentence is not particularly accurate, and appears to be a stretch and misread of what the proposals actually have said — though, again, the final rules could change. The issue isn’t that network providers couldn’t prioritize data, but that they couldn’t discriminate in terms of who could make use of that prioritization in an anti-competitive manner (i.e., the provider could determine that a VoIP call needs prioritization, so long as all VoIP providers get the same prioritization).
But, back to the key point: this has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the network improvements that AT&T agreed to make in order to get the iPhone (which arguably, haven’t worked all that well). AT&T’s efforts were focused on upgrades to its network, which had nothing at all to do with discriminating against certain applications or services directly. Of course, since then, AT&T/Apple has chosen to discriminate against certain applications in its app store, but not at the network level, which is the main issue here.
I’m as worried as the next guy about the unintended consequences of network neutrality legislation, but making totally ridiculous and unsubstantiated claims that net neutrality would mean “no more iPhone” makes those arguing against network neutrality rules look petty and willing to flat-out lie to support their position.