Wednesday, October 09, 2013

WSJ's Holman Jenkins: FCC Should Take "Yes" for an Answer

The Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins has a nice piece in today's paper, "Saying 'Yes' to Broadband," [subscription required] which provides an enlightening look -- for those who are not already familiar -- at the increasingly competitive environment for high-speed broadband. Mr. Jenkins chronicles the competition that is taking place across platforms, technologies, and companies.
The column is well worth reading, but here is the conclusion for those who can't read the whole piece. 
"Verizon, AT&T and Sprint-Softbank are all heralding a reality that has hardly yet entered the FCC's thinking—when mobile and fixed converge, becoming practical substitutes for each other. Verizon and AT&T not only are talking up the capacity of their 4G (and someday 5G) networks to carry high-def video in and out of the home. Both plan to devote swaths of spectrum to replicating in some fashion the broadcast TV business model. How this might work is far from clear, but a factor is the FCC sitting on the existing broadcast TV business, with its vast spectrum holdings, preventing it from finding its own place in the digital landscape.
All this renders even more quaint the scrap over 'net neutrality.' Verizon is battling in a U.S. appeals court the FCC's effort to impose this regulatory conceit on the broadband industry—with certain bloggers insisting that if Verizon wins, it will represent 'the end of the Internet,' because, you know, there's not enough competition to make sure broadband operators don't 'censor' the Internet in their own interest by blocking access to websites that compete with their own services.
Uh huh. The truth is, competition has been more than adequate so far to police the Internet, and now competition is getting jacked up a serious notch as the video explosion stimulates a deluge of new investment. Now if the regulatory establishment would just take 'yes' for an answer.
BTW, I have been urging the FCC to take "yes" for an answer for answer for well over a decade now.