Re: Government in Internet is bad... PERIOD... End of Story
So wait, instead of judging each individual regulatory effort on its merits it's wiser to automatically assume that all regulation is inherently bad -- always? I hear this a lot and it doesn't get any better the more times it's repeated.
Unbundling was part of the 1996 telecom act. And was gradually destroyed by telecom lobbyists, resulting in CLECs (with a few exception) dying off in droves and the duopoly logjam we enjoy today. France, in contrast, took our idea and made it work, resulting in many Parisians paying $40 or so for triple play services.
I agree! None of this is ideal. We had unbundling in 1996 and it was gutted (and subsequently used to good effect in other locations like France). Net neutrality protections are our next best bet, since it's pretty clear nobody in government has the stomach to return to unbundling requirements or open access broadband models any time soon.
US Telecom really is a unique animal. Thanks to the duopoly stranglehold over the last mile, when you support regulators doing nothing, you by proxy support nothing changing. Because U.S. broadband is far, far from a free market; there is no deus ex machina coming out of the wings to resolve the issue organically.
Then the choice ends up being: if we're going to have to have regulations: which would you rather have? Regulations that protect the greatest number of people and companies possible, or regulations protecting AT&T, Verizon and Comcast's competitive stranglehold over vast swaths of the country?
That doesn't seem to be your point. Your point seems to be a desire for pure deregulation. After thirty years of number two, you can't just suddenly kill all regulators and regulations and hope for the best. Duopolists still have a stranglehold over the last mile, but now you've eliminated all the checks and balances that did exist (and some do still exist) aimed at keeping them from abusing that control. I just don't find this mantra of "deregulate, deregulate, deregulate" particularly nuanced, or really applicable to telecom.
"But the question is what is most likely to "fix" it - technological innovation, or government regulation."
Technical innovation can't magically fix a duopoly stranglehold over the last mile to the home. The closest we've come to that is wireless, which isn't really a suitable replacement due to cost and caps, and is controlled by the same big players who've gobbled up the lion's share of available spectrum.
Deregulating everything and waiting for magic to occur may work for some sectors, but it simply isn't a realistic option when talking about telecom.
"Yes, I agree that there is massive confusion on the political front regarding net neutrality; however, I am still unclear as to why Techdirt extolls the virtues of regulating the internet."
I think claiming that this piece suggests we "want the 'Net regulated" is an over-simplification and inaccurate. As is the increasingly tired suggestion that regulation is always good, or it's always bad, without bothering to discuss the nuance of that particularly piece of regulation.
It's especially a narrow view to hold when we're talking about broadband, which isn't a free market.
With the very real physical last mile nature of telecom, you're simply going to have regulation. The question is, what kind of regulation do you want? End product of regulatory capture that designs laws that only benefit large duopolies? Or regulations built with some thought toward keeping the Internet as an open, creative, and innovative platform with consumer welfare at the top of the list?
Title II, is the best available option short of waiting for duopolists to magically decide to open up their networks to additional competitors resulting in eroded revenues (not happening).
In telecom, saying you want regulators to pack it in and go home is saying you want to leave things precisely as they are, since the nature of telecom is that with mono/duopolists in control of the last mile, nothing's changing until they're forced to change.
You need some rules in play to ensure they don't abuse the last mile. Having no rules isn't an option. The question then becomes, what rules do you want?
Net neutrality rules are only a band aid option for a lack of competition, but that lack of competition was built over a generation, even the best policies aren't going to fix it overnight. Net neutrality rules are what happens in the interim.
I'm not sure cell phones and TVs are an apt comparison.
Some people like their phones dumb, sure. But unlike the phone, the TV is a gateway to other devices (game consoles, cable boxes, streaming video hardware, cameras). The TV's role is to simply display content from other devices. The phone isn't just a screen, it's a portable computer. I feel like they're quite different.
Like car infotainment GUIs or Audio receiver GUIs I've historically found them cumbersome and annoying to the Nth degree. Another reason to leave that stuff to companies that actually know what they're doing.