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What are the positions on net neutrality? Show more Show less
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Net neutrality policy is the idea that all websites, irrespective of their content, equipment, or location, must be treated with the same priority and speeds, but can vary in the extent of regulation. What are the main stances on net neutrality?

Net neutrality is bad Show more Show less

Net neutrality regulation hinders innovation and development in our internet products, preventing the emergence of more effective practices and more practical business models.
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Net neutrality reduces investment in infrastructure and service quality

Without net neutrality, broadband providers would have an incentive to invest more heavily in improving their infrastructure due to having more liberty in their expenditures.

The Argument

It is no coincidence that since 2015, when the US implemented its net neutrality regulations, investment in broadband infrastructure has dropped. Without the ability to develop alternate revenue streams, telecommunication companies have been unable to recoup investments as quickly. The CEO of AT&T has stated that Title II included in the Obama administration's net neutrality legislation was "suppressive to [industry] investment."[1] Additionally, Comcast similarly claimed that FCC Net Neutrality legislation and treatment of providers "harms investment and innovation." [2] And this fact is reflected in data taken before and after legislation where it was seen that 8 of the 12 largest ISPs purposefully withdrew capital from the sector. These 12 companies collectively invested $3.6 billion less in domestic broadband infrastructure. In other words, there was a 5.5% decline in investment and active withdrawal from the market.[3][4] With decreased investments and less growth in a strained sector, the entire quality of service available via the internet depreciates since the actors who need more broadband are not given these additional allocations or even given the option to pay for them! Ultimately, the needs and demands of consumers are not met, causing a rift between people's preferences and the services provided; hence, the issue of decreased capital and investment lowers the quality of service throughout the internet.

Counter arguments

There are plenty of other factors that influence investment rates beyond profits, including red tape, legal regulations, and market conditions. A far more likely outcome would be that board members and shareholders get richer, and the quality of the product stays the same. Additionally, some studies indicate that investment incentives would not diminish in the net neutrality paradigm as the ISP's claim.[5][6] Even the companies themselves have said that net neutrality laws do not impact infrastructure investments. In 2005, Verizon issued a statement categorically stating that infrastructure investment was not correlated with net neutrality decisions.[7] Instead of falling, infrastructure spending has actually increased in the US since net neutrality laws came into effect. 2016 saw a large increase in infrastructure spending from the nation’s biggest internet service provider.[8]

Proponents

Framing

Telecommunications companies invest more in infrastructure when they have the means and the incentive to do so. Net neutrality affords telecom companies neither the means nor the incentive to promote infrastructure investment.

Premises

[P1] The more money a telecom provider has, the more it invests in infrastructure. [P2] Therefore, policies that limit telecom provider's income result in reduced infrastructure investment. [P3] Net neutrality reduces internet providers' revenue opportunities. [P4] Therefore, telecom companies have less income. [P5] Therefore, they invest less in their infrastructure.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] This is not always the case.

References

  1. https://seekingalpha.com/article/4039537-ts-t-ceo-randall-stephenson-on-q4-2016-results-earnings-call-transcript?part=single
  2. https://corporate.comcast.com/comcast-voices/comcast-supports-net-neutrality-and-reversal-of-title-ii-classification-title-ii-is-not-net-neutrality
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/washingtonbytes/2017/03/02/capital-flight-from-broadband-in-the-title-ii-era/#400431b235cf
  4. https://www.hpe.com/us/en/insights/articles/net-neutrality-and-the-iot-what-you-need-to-know-1801.html
  5. https://msu.edu/~choijay/NN-Rand_Final%20Version.pdf
  6. https://siepr.stanford.edu/research/publications/net-neutrality-regulations#ref1
  7. https://qz.com/1140466/all-the-best-arguments-for-repealing-the-federal-communication-commissions-net-neutrality-rules-proposed-by-ajit-pai/
  8. https://www.wired.com/story/the-fcc-says-net-neutrality-cripples-investment-thats-not-true/

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 29 Oct 2020 at 21:37 UTC

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