Comment on Network Neutrality

Published May 11, 2006

(Chicago, IL – May 11, 2006) State and federal elected officials are considering measures to impose “network neutrality” regulations on telecommunications providers.

The following comment on network neutrality can be attributed to Steven Titch, managing editor of IT&T News and senior fellow – IT and telecom policy for The Heartland Institute, a 22-year-old nonprofit research organization based in Chicago. Titch can be contacted for further information by telephone at 281/571-4322 (office) or 312/925-0464 (cell), or by email at [email protected].

“Network neutrality,” a misguided policy that would require phone and cable companies to make no distinctions in the way they transmit all Internet traffic, is being cloaked in the robe of Internet freedom. Truth is, the network neutrality campaign is little more than an attempt by the nation’s largest bandwidth users to avoid paying the cost of the network disruption they cause.

Network neutrality won’t give us a freer Internet. Americans enjoy an unfettered Internet experience today, and robust competition among service providers ensures that will continue. Net neutrality would, however, make basic Internet access more expensive for average users, because it would stick them with costs they shouldn’t have to bear.

A net neutrality law would prevent service providers from seeking compensation from third-party companies whose applications place a massive management strain on the network because of the huge amount of bandwidth they consume. That’s why it’s no surprise that companies such as Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, which aim to profit from gobbling as much Internet bandwidth as possible for free, are the loudest advocates of network neutrality. Rather than pay the cost of relieving the bandwidth crunch they themselves are creating, they want Congress to pass the cost onto consumers. This is what network neutrality really is … and it’s no way to help spread broadband across the United States.

Network neutrality would trip up any attempts to maximize the utility and benefits of the Internet, because it would bar effective management of the Internet’s underlying resource: bandwidth.

Network neutrality is wrong-headed policy and should be opposed by anyone who hopes to see the U.S. continue its leadership in the digital economy.

Steven Titch ([email protected]) is senior fellow – IT and telecom policy for The Heartland Institute, a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago. Among other publications, Heartland publishes IT&T News, a monthly newsletter addressing technology and telecommunications policy issues. For more information, call Michael Van Winkle, media affairs assistant, 312/377-4000, or email him at [email protected].