Updated: Aug 8
They predicted the internet would slow down. Some said the internet would end. Neither has happened.
This fall marks the six year anniversary of the end of "net neutrality" - a policy adopted in 2015 under the Obama Administration that seemed to target a problem that didn't exist. Net neutrality was supposed to prevent internet service providers (ISP's) from favoring or limiting internet traffic. It sounded good - in fact, large national companies and celebrities alike supported the idea - and predicted doom and gloom when it was repealed by the FCC in 2017.
The problem is it was a heavy-handed, government regulatory approach that actually would stifle competition and the freedom of the internet. And, to the extent that there was any issue in the first place, it would have been better dealt with using current laws that encourage and enforce competition.
Meantime, we now have the data to prove that the internet speed was improving before 2015 (pre-net neutrality), and continues to increase in this post net neutrality world.
Average broadband speeds in the United States have increased dramatically over the past six years. Average mobile internet speeds are up more than 300%.
And we see very few - if any - examples of ISP's blocking any content. Ironically, the only reports of that happening are coming from the companies that actually supported net neutrality regulations in the first place.
Unfortunately, the biggest factor that determines your internet speed is the place you live. Typically, more rural areas experience slower internet speeds. This is why we need more innovation - and less regulation - to expand and improve access.
Like critical infrastructure (roads, bridges, sewer and water) government can play a limited role in expanding access. But at what expense?
Under the 2021 federal infrastructure law, states will be receiving hundreds of millions of dollars to connect more rural areas to broadband. The funds being sent to the Mountain States include:
The $42 billion total aims to expand access to 8.5 million people and businesses by 2030, meaning the government will spend just under $5,000 per hookup to get folks broadband in seven years.