Why Is The Justice Department Commenting On Net Neutrality?

from the not-really-their-area-of-interest dept

There's been a fair amount of chatter over the Justice Department's decision to comment to the FCC about network neutrality, but there's been almost no discussion as to why the Justice Department should be involved at all. It's true that the DOJ covers anti-trust issues, but this isn't about a merger or the potential to create a monopoly. While I'm not in favor of regulating network neutrality, there are a bunch of really questionable statements in the DOJ's filing that simply don't make much sense. Take, for example, the following statement: "Regulators should be careful not to impose regulations that could limit consumer choice and investment in broadband facilities." If the DOJ really feels that way, then shouldn't it have also come out against the FCC's decision to do-away with line sharing rules that actually did allow for competition? Does the DOJ not realize that the market for broadband is already heavily regulated, which is why most consumers here only have one or two choices -- compared to other countries that have created more open markets on top of the infrastructure, allowing for competition, faster speeds and increased innovation? Does the DOJ really not realize how many gov't subsidies and handouts have been given to the telcos so that they could build networks where no one else could enter the market in the same manner?

The DOJ also makes the bizarre argument that without breaking net neutrality, broadband providers will never make enough money to upgrade their networks. It's a dumb argument for the same reason that it's a dumb argument to claim that without network neutrality, it'll be too costly for certain sites to make enough money to offer cool services to users. Both arguments are ridiculous because they focus on the specific benefits to one private party and not how they impact the rest of the market -- and the DOJ shouldn't have any interest in focusing on the benefits of a single private party (and it's even worse for the DOJ to do so under the false guise of "free market" economics). Sure, without network neutrality telcos might be able to make more money in the short term. But you could just as easily argue that if network neutrality remains, it'll be easier (and cheaper) to create the next generation of killer apps that will make more bandwidth more valuable (allowing the telcos to profit handsomely). And, it's not even worth going into the DOJ's use of the thoroughly debunked claim comparing network neutrality to different delivery speeds at the post office. Basically, the DOJ brief (and, again, it's still not clear why they even have an opinion on this) repeats a bunch of the misleading half-truths that the telcos have spouted for months. Yet, it doesn't touch on the really key issue: there simply isn't real competition in the broadband market. Allowing the telcos to break network neutrality doesn't change that.

Filed Under: doj, fcc, net neutrality

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  1. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, 8 Sep 2007 @ 8:28am


    I have tried several times to respond to this comment and had to delete it and try again. This comment is so stupid that I just can't find the words.

    Your talking about leaving the system the way it is even if more and more people are realising how slow they are forced to go. More and more people are getting online witch causes the rest to slow down along with them. More people are being introduced to YouTube and others every day. How many Xbox 360s, Wiis and PS3s are out there right now downloading vary large files? (Filled my 12G HDD in 5 days and didn't pay for any of it)

    The image of the granny that checks her E-Mail only once a week is dying. Even mine, who was one, is starting to complain that her dial-up is too slow. I told her to go to broadband but no one offers it in her aria. NO ONE.

    Having 100M down isn't to get one download going at the full 100 but to have several while one is streaming or video chatting with a friend. Even with my Comcast running at 20-24M down and 1.5M up it's really hard to do video chat. I have a security cam running at my place to let me monitor it from work. How many live web-cams are out there. Damn, I could go on forever.

    Don't let the cable or DSL companies tell you that no one needs any more. Don't let them show you the granny who only goes online for 5min at a time and tell you it's the norm. Definitely don't let them tell you that if you download more than 5G a month it must be for illegal things.

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