Everyone loves the party game/icebreaker “two truths and a lie.”
Can you identify which of the following is NOT true about net neutrality?
- Net neutrality made the internet free and open.
- Net neutrality regulations slowed the expansion of broadband across America.
- The internet got faster after the Trump Administration repealed net neutrality regulations.
A. You found it! This one is the lie.
Net neutrality rules, which control how broadband companies like Comcast and Verizon deliver services, were passed by the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015. The FCC grabbed power and authority to regulate broadband companies from the Federal Trade Commission. They then passed regulations that prohibited internet providers from blocking or slowing down websites and prioritizing their content over content from other websites.
The big flaw with net neutrality was that it was a solution in search of a problem. Since its creation decades ago, the internet blossomed and developed without much government regulation or intervention. As a result, there was a robust, competitive market.
The Clinton Administration and Congress, at that time, recognized that the fledgling internet needed a light regulatory touch. That approach was upheld until the Obama Administration took a heavy-handed approach despite little evidence of wrongdoing, including anti-competitive behavior, that warranted the added regulations.
The internet was free and open before net neutrality and it will continue to be now that those regulations are gone.
Opponents of net neutrality repeal have used scare tactics and dishonesty about what would happen in the absence of net neutrality. They claimed the internet would slow to a crawl. They lied.
Since net neutrality regulations were repealed in June 2018, U.S. internet speeds jumped from 12th to 6th fastest in the world. They currently hover a couple of spots below that. Furthermore, according to independent analysis download speeds increased nearly 40 percent and upload speeds jumped over 20 percent from the end of 2017 to 2018. This means consumers can more quickly access websites and share content online.
During the first two years of the Obama net neutrality regulations, broadband network investment by declined by $3.6 billion-—or more than 5 percent. That was the first time investment declined outside of a recession.
The impact on small broadband companies was even more stark. The 2015 net neutrality regulations imposed new costs and expense on small broadband providers that caused them to delay or reduce network expansion and delay or reduce services according to one survey.
Rural America lags in access to fast broadband internet service and Americans there are the ones who were hurt most as companies pulled back on developing expensive but needed internet infrastructure.
We can all agree on the principle of an open and free internet, but net neutrality rules did not deliver that. Rather, it slowed progress for rural Americans to experience the reliable and fast internet access that other Americans enjoy.
Repealing net neutrality returned us to a light-regulatory touch that allows the internet to continue to flourish and deliver amazing new goods and services as it did over the past three decades.