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The Cable Pipeline Opinion: Net Neutrality’s Conundrum

in Expert Opinion/Net Neutrality by
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Through continued research of the Net Neutrality debate, distinct realizations come to mind for Regulators’, Consumers, and Network Providers alike in pondering the heated discussions around whether either regulation, or a (hands-off) approach, are sufficient to allow unfettered and equal access, including clear competition, and that all are present on the Broadband pipelines. 

First there has continued to be somewhat of a hysteria and possibly pre-ordained fear, albeit without serious incidents of record, that network providers both have and will continue to throttle speeds and limit access of their customers to the copious amounts of content becoming available through the Internet. Perhaps the hysteria has unfolded as a result of one BitTorrent case, or associated with a fear of other industry debacles as seen with banks, Insurance companies, Investor Management companies, and Wall Street, driving the public to government as their interventionist in reigning in these industries; but how realistic are these fears based on the current Internet model?

Regulation can hamper Broadband Access and Adoption

Increased regulation of a burgeoning Internet on the verge of offering just the recipe the FCC is mandating could backfire in helping startup companies materialize and grow while slowing the proliferation of increased infrastructure, and network upgrades. Without the freedom to invest and seek sufficient ROI’s network providers will cut costs rather than invest for the future. This could stunt job creation, a by-product of innovation and free-flowing investment, in an industry with a broad potential to produce applications and services for the Internet.

Network Management Polices will continue to improve and evolve to handle varying Traffic Needs

It is in the best interest of private network providers to provide the best network management policies for all users in continuing to build their consumer and business base. This correlates to (Business Management – Best Practices-101). If a company cannot offer the best experience for its customers all businesses, whether an Internet Provider or a Wal-Mart, cannot survive the long term.

Use of Anti-Trust Statutes to curtail (Bad-Actors)

Absent a serious history of abuses within the Internet pipelines the FCC should concentrate on harnessing (bad-Actors) with Anti-Competitive Statues, not regulation, allowing that these companies will receive stiff penalties, and will certainly be brought to the forefront via customers and competitors having been abused, disenfranchised, and denied access to fair treatment.

Incentives rather than Regulation

Broadband Stimulus Plan funds should be used to incent companies to build new infrastructure and upgrade their networks to realize an adoption and access vision which the FCC has been mandated to accomplish.  First, detailed maps must be created to determined where the infrastructure is located, and where it is not. Then current providers of Telephone, Cable, or Wireless are incented to build and upgrade their networks in rural areas to provide needed Internet services. Monies will be better spent with incentives associated to quantifiable results rather than regulation and mandates of an existing industry.

The Cable Pipeline has written about both sides of the Net Neutrality issue. It is without question a passionate and personal debate with results having far reaching implications in the lives of individuals, businesses, and public sectors alike. The FCC has been prudent in seeking comment from all stakeholders which will hopefully produce the right results for all concerned. When the dust settles, my preference would lean more toward less regulation and more incentives therefore spurring economic growth and job creation.

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Len Grace is a technology industry veteran with over 18 years experience with Comcast Corporation. His insights into pertinent and relevant issues within the Broadband/Telecom/Cable/Wireless and Mobile sectors both inform and enlighten readers on current industry trends, analysis, business strategy, competitive landscape and legislative agendas. Len is the founder & editor of The Cable Pipeline, a technology blog who contributes to various technology websites including Light Reading, BroadbandBreakfast.com (Expert Opinion), SiliconAngle, Cisco Community: Service Provider Mobility, Amdocs: InTouch Community Portal, Bloomberg's bx Business Exchange, CircleID, and Sys-Con Media/Utilizer. Also see his reporting.

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