By Kim Hart - 11/19/09 12:45 PM EST
Companies against net neutrality will hail it as a brilliant collection of articulate arguments. Net neutrality proponents may want to start a book-burning bonfire.
The American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research is putting out a collection of essays about the consequences of net neutrality regulations. Hillicon Valley got an exclusive look at the book before it gets released this morning.
By glancing at the authors, it's no surprise that the 14-essay pamphlet's thesis is that net neutrality regulations would ultimately be harmful for consumers and thwart innovation. The table of contents has familiar names: Randolph May (Free State Foundation), Wayne Leighton (Empiris), John Mayo (Georgetown University) and Hance Haney (Discovery Institute), to name just a few. You most likely already know their positions.
Steven Titch of the Reason Foundation argues that a non-discrimination principle, as proposed by the FCC, would prohibit phone, cable and wireless companies from applying "any technology, technique or software that would prioritize, organize or otherwise sturcture Internet traffic so it is delivered faster, has a guaranteed level of quality, or is partitioned in such a way that it does not slow down or impede other traffic."
He likens the Internet to the Post Office. In shipping mail, senders can pay more for faster delivery or to insure items against loss. "All these come at an extra cost, but they are not seen as unfair to individuals who use regular mail, nor do 'fast lane' services interfere with standard delivery."
Similarly, Larry Darby of the American Consumer Institute says "discrimination" has a very different defintion in economics than it does in culture. While most people associate discrimination with negative or judgemental activity, he argues that it simply refers to a level of sophistication that is a necessary part of the business world. He says that if carriers are not allowed to offer different levels of service for different prices, "carriers will have to charge a higher average price to cover the full cost of the network," because consumers who would otherwise be willing to pay higher prices for more bandwidth and faster service, will not be able to do so.
Hal Singer of Empiris asks this question in one chapter's title: "Should wireless carriers have a duty to support Google Voice or Skype?"
I'll post a link to an electronic copy of the pamphlet as soon as it goes live.