When the FCC lost its court case against Comcast over the ability to enforce network neutrality, it turned much of last year’s efforts to define the rules into something of a moot point. The commission is now getting all sorts of advice on how to handle things and reimpose the authority it thought it had before, but it’s of little use.
The large last mile providers are of course advising them not to bring back title II regulation to broadband and data in any form, warning of dire consequences for consumers – by which they mean themselves mostly but who’s counting. They urge the commission to find another solution, but we all know they will sue to stop or hamstring any other such implementation of network neutrality on the basis that the FCC doesn’t have that same authority. In other words, ‘Don’t regulate us at all. We’ll be good, we promise!’
On the other side, we have folks like Google and Public Knowledge who are taking the opposite position: impose title I, II, or whatever Roman numeral seems best now and forever to stop the evil duopoly from ever discriminating against innocent traffic again. But only for the last mile, there’s no need to apply any rules to anyone else. It’s a giant pile of very reasonable arguments that boil down to ‘Regulate them, but of course never us’.
It’s all a bit surreal to me, because the FCC’s actions aren’t really the driving force behind network neutrality – Genachowski just picked up the baton last year and started walking in front of the parade. Imagine for a moment that Comcast, Verizon, and their allies win and the FCC just gives up the entire concept pending congressional action (an oxymoron if there ever was one). Could or would they go out and throttle or filter traffic they don’t like? I really doubt it, they’d be taken to the cleaners in the court of public opinion which would then actually turn into some of that mythical congressional action.
This whole dysfunctional situation has arisen out of the FCC’s hurry to address network neutrality rather than finish getting the rest of its house in order. Wallpaper over water damage works only for a little while. In this case, 6 months.