Editors' note: This is a guest column. See Jorge Bauermeister's bio below.
For those heavily engaged in the Internet regulation battle that has been raging over the past year, the next two weeks will be a nail-biting period. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski recently announced what seems to be a sensible compromise on the issue of Net neutrality, which will work to govern how the Internet pipes are managed.
Genachowski's proposal appears to meet all interested parties in the middle by ensuring the continuation of an open Internet and also providing an environment that enables the growth of the Internet and communications sector to continue at a rapid pace. Continued growth, naturally, is essential to enabling new technologies and services to meet consumer demand and needs.
But instead of plaudits, the chairman is stuck in a tug-of-war between the long-standing proponents of Net neutrality and those skeptical of new regulations and any unintended consequences they may cause. Splits in the commission, which will vote yea or nay this month, mirror the outside fight.
I have been a supporter of light-touch approaches to any sort of Internet regulation, often citing the negative fallout that could result from heavier rules--particularly the approach of reclassifying Internet services under the Title II framework that has governed telephone services since the 1934 Telecommunications Act. Luckily, the Title II approach appears to have been taken off the table, given the recent announcement of the chairman's framework, which maintains rules under the current Title I approach.
Why compromise is good--and where extreme policy goes wrong As for those who want tough neutrality rules on wireless broadband, I'd advise one to be careful what you wish for. The smartphone revolution has created dramatic new demand for wireless capacity, which is already bumping up against the limits of current technology.
Wireless networks simply can't handle as much data as wired networks and, therefore, the wireless infrastructure and management of mobile networks require a different approach than wired and fixed broadband. We are just at the beginning of a high-growth wireless revolution. Overregulation will stunt its growth, and Genachowski's plan takes into account that reality, leaving room for continued growth while also doing enough to ensure consumer protections on mobile networks. … Read more