- Dec 5, 2011
Late yesterday one of the big news items that we didn't quite get to was that Net Neutrality (and especially the FCC) was dealt a serious blow by a U.S. Appeals Court. Originally, the FCC ruled that wireline ISPs shall not block lawful content, applications, services or non-harmful devices, subject to reasonable network management while also mandating that ISPs shall not unreasonably discriminate in transmitting lawful traffic over a consumers broadband Internet access service.
Of course, the ISPs, telecoms and cable companies were not happy with this, so many of them, including leaders like Comcast and Verizon, took this fight to the U.S. Court system. Yesterday, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the FCC. Their ruling may have effectively killed Net Neutrality completely. Here's a quote with the details of the U.S. Appeals Court decision,
In its ruling against the FCCs rules, the court said that such restrictions are not needed in part because consumers have a choice in which ISP they use.
Without broadband provider market power, consumers, of course, have options, writes Judge Laurence Silberman, one of the judges on the panel, in his opinion in part agreeing and in part dissenting from the courts decision. They can go to another broadband provider if they want to reach particular edge providers or if their connections to particular edge providers have been degraded.
For anyone who lives in a market with limited competition for home broadband services, Silberman does acknowledge that you might have some difficulty in finding another provider but says that its still not reason enough to restrict what an ISP can do when it comes to managing its own traffic.
To be sure, some difficulty switching broadband providers is certainly a factor that might contribute to a firms having market power, but that itself is not market power, he asserts. There are many industries in which switching between competitors is not instantly achieved, but those industries may still be heavily disciplined by competitive forces because consumers will switch unless there are real barriers.
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