Hey, Remember How Net Neutrality Was Supposed To Destroy The Internet?
from the chicken-little dept
Before and after the FCC imposed new net neutrality rules, you’ll recall there was no limit of hand-wringing from major ISPs and net neutrality opponents about how these “draconian regulations from a bygone era” would utterly decimate the Internet. We were told investment would freeze, innovation would dry up like dehydrated jerky, and in no time at all net neutrality would have us all collectively crying over our busted, congested, tubes.
And, of course, shockingly, absolutely none of that is happening. Because what the ISPs feared about net neutrality rules wasn’t that it would senselessly hurt their ability to invest, but that it would harm their ability to take aggressive and punitive advantage of the lack of competition in last mile broadband networks. Obviously ISPs can’t just come out and admit that, so what we get instead is oodles of nonsense, including bogus claims that net neutrality violates ISPs’ First Amendment rights.
About a year ago, you’ll recall that companies like Netflix, Cogent, and Level 3 accused most of the major ISPs of intentionally letting their peering points get congested. The goal, these companies claimed, was to kill the long-standing idea of settlement-free peering, and drive services like Netflix toward striking new interconnection deals that would, presumably, be jacked up over time. One year on and Cogent CEO Dave Schaeffer notes that most of the congestion that plagued these interconnection points last year has somehow magically disappeared:
“Speaking to investors during the Deutsche Bank 23rd Annual Leveraged Finance Conference, Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent, said that the FCC’s adoption of net neutrality rules that include Title II regulation, and passage of similar rules in the European Union, have led to ports on other networks becoming unclogged. “The adoption of the Open Internet order and Title II jurisdictional authority were mirrored in the EU and on June 30 the European Commission adopted a set of regulations that were passed by the parliament and the council,” Schaeffer said. “As a result of that we have seen significant port augmentations.”
Schaeffer proceeded to note that AT&T and Verizon “are nearly congestion free” and would be completely congestion free sometime in the fourth quarter. Negotiations with other ISPs appear to also be going well. Funny how that works, huh? And note the FCC didn’t even have to do all that much; we simply needed the mere threat of a regulator actually doing its job to make the mega-ISPs play nice. In other words, net neutrality rules that were supposed to destroy the Internet have instead resulted in companies that were at each other’s throats a year ago suddenly getting along famously, and the Internet itself working better than before.
Sure, some ISP think tankers are being paid to pretend the last few weeks that network investment has dried up, but there’s absolutely no indication that’s the case. In fact, the biggest ISPs historically opposed to net neutrality have announced major deployment projects since, including Comcast’s plan to deploy two gigabit fiber to 18 million homes, Verizon’s plan to invest heavily in the fifth-generation of wireless technology, and AT&T’s $68 billion acquisition and subsequent plans for fixed-wireless broadband and (when they can bothered to get around to it) gigabit fiber.
Granted, ISPs will argue that it’s still early and that the sky will likely fall due to net neutrality any day now. A more likely explanation is that incumbent ISPs and their army of paid mouthpieces were utterly and unmistakably full of shit.