Award Winning Blog

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Ted Cruz’s Bumper Sticker Reference to Network Neutrality as Obamacare for the Internet

            It’s quite understandable for a politician to summarize complex issues and to distill them into pithy bumper sticker slogans.  So it comes as no surprise that Senator Ted Cruz (or his staff) would come up with the glib analogy between Obamacare and network neutrality.

            Yet again our elected officials fail us with media-ready quips.  From my unsponsored vantage point, I can agree that the President should avoid overstep and respect the role of independent regulatory agencies such as the FCC.  But I surely can take umbrage at Senator Cruz’s sloganeering.

           The network neutrality debate suffers from politicization and more broadly much of the FCC’s work product has become politicized, and interpreted as partisan.  Similarly, anyone who writes about FCC subjects ends up being assigned to one, mutually exclusive camp, or the other.

             I reject such cubby holing.  Should you read my considerable work on network neutrality, you would see someone striving to find the truth and a proper way forward.  My work does not fit into any single camp.

            Robust and sustainable broadband competition does not exist in the United States for first and last mile access despite the blessing of having two wireline options (DSL and cable modem).  Data caps, latency, questions about congestion, equipment costs etc. preclude treating wireless as a functional equivalent to wireline at least for the time being.

            On the other hand, I do not support converting Internet Service Providers into utilities, or thinking that Title II reclassification will solve all ills.

            I do not think the Internet should be completely neutral either.  If I want to view "must see" television, e.g., a Penn State football game, or a Netflix movie, I want my ISP and every other carrier involved in carrying "mission critical" bits to handle them with priority, "Most Favored Nation” treatment.  

            On the other hand (I am an academic!), I don't want Comcast deliberately messing with a competitor’s traffic to extort additional payment.  Netflix should have the option for securing "better than best efforts" routing, but I don't want Comcast to have the ability to penalize small ventures that do not have the traffic volume to cause congestion, or have the funds to pay a surcharge that Comcast does not deserve.

            So I am no one’s true believer.  For this I am ignored and/or defriended by parties on both side.

            Whatever became of reasonable disagreements and civility?