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Is net neutrality good or bad? Show more Show less

Net neutrality is the idea that internet providers must not treat websites differently. All websites, irrespective of their content, equipment, or location must be treated with the same priority and speed. For net neutrality’s proponents, it is essential for preserving the internet’s commitment to information sharing and the establishment of a level playing field for all participants, but what are the pros and cons of 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

Without net neutrality, broadband providers would have an incentive to invest more heavily in their infrastructure.
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Context

The more money the telecommunications company makes, the more money they have to spend on improving infrastructure. Net neutrality prevents telecommunications companies from pursuing a new revenue stream, limiting profits, and thereby limiting investment in infrastructure.

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. If net neutrality was abandoned, telecom companies could develop revenue streams like a premium delivery service, security products, and speed optimization packages, which would allow for more innovation and infrastructure investment.[1]

Counter arguments

There is no guarantee that just because telecom companies have higher revenues, they will use those revenues to increase investments in broadband infrastructure. 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. Even the companies themselves have said that net neutrality laws do not impact infrastructure investments. In 2005, Verizon issued a statement categorically stating that investment in infrastructure was not correlated with net neutrality decisions.[2] In 2015, AT&T also confirmed that net neutrality laws would not affect business plans. 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.[3]

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.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.asme.org/topics-resources/content/10-arguments-against-net-neutrality-part-1
  2. https://qz.com/1140466/all-the-best-arguments-for-repealing-the-federal-communication-commissions-net-neutrality-rules-proposed-by-ajit-pai/
  3. 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 Friday, 17 Apr 2020 at 15:10 UTC