Over the weekend, there were a couple separate calls for the government to regulate the internet.
One of them came from a Mark Evans blog posting, wondering aloud if the government should get into the business of regulating porn, presumably using a new Porn Control Board of Ontario to raise revenues for the provincial treasury. After all, now that Ontario has decided to join British Columbia in the world of on-line gambling, he asks if we could have provincial regulation and control over another fund-raising vice.
The other call came from an opinion piece in the Washington Post. which dealt with the Google-Verizon proposal for network management rules. The main theme of that piece is that it disagrees with wireless being given an exemption from the rules.
The biggest reason to apply net-neutrality regulations to wired and wireless alike is basic economics. Anytime the government applies one set of rules to some competitors in a market but not others, it distorts that market.
And although wireless broadband hasn’t always been a real alternative to land-based cable, DSL or fiber connections, faster 4G services make it a more viable option.
The Washington Post says that net-neutrality rules do not require “surrendering to anarchy” on Internet connections; they support Internet providers managing their networks in ways that don’t discriminate between legitimate sites or services.
So if your Internet provider’s connection gets clogged because some users are hitting one site, it couldn’t cut off access to that site. But it could, after providing fair warning, throttle back those users’ download speeds, cap their bandwidth or charge them extra. Straightforward usage limits would have the added benefit of being understandable to customers and companies alike — unlike a lot of federal regulations and corporate terms-of-service documents.
In other words, the Washington Post is suggesting that the US adopt the Canadian approach.
Is it time for Canada’s net neutrality groups to acknowledge that the CRTC may have gotten it right?