The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Net Neutrality—Revisited

Obama-era advocates of government controlled internet access (a.k.a. "Net Neutrality") suggested that the Trump rollback of Obama's plans to control the internet and access to it amounted to a "most brutal blow to democracy" and the "destruction of the internet as we know it." What abject nonsense!

Like most things that come out of the Left, this was, shall we say, a gross exaggeration. Nick Gillespie reports:
For all the drama over the repeal of Net Neutrality and continuing fears about a "digital divide" between online haves and have-nots, the number of Americans with high-speed access to the Internet continues to grow, says a preliminary report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The report covers development in 2017, the latest year for which data are available. From an FCC press release:

The number of Americans lacking access to a fixed broadband connection meeting the FCC's benchmark speed of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps has dropped by over 25%, from 26.1 million Americans at the end of 2016 to 19.4 million at the end of 2017. Moreover, the majority of those gaining access to such high-speed connections, approximately 5.6 million, live in rural America, where broadband deployment has traditionally lagged.

The private sector has responded to FCC reforms by deploying fiber to 5.9 million new homes in 2018, the largest number ever recorded. And overall, capital expenditures by broadband providers increased in 2017, reversing declines that occurred in both 2015 and 2016.
Other key findings of the report include the following, based on data through the end of 2017:
The number of Americans with access to 100 Mbps/10Mpbs fixed broadband increased by nearly 20%, from 244.3 million to 290.9 million. The number of Americans with access to 250 Mbps/50 Mbps fixed broadband grew by over 45%, to 205.2 million, and the number of rural Americans with access to such service more than doubled.
So despite all the hand-wringing, the claims that the have-nots would be shut out from the web along with all the claims that education, medicine, commerce, blah, blah, blah would be irreparably harmed were wrong. None of it happened. In fact more people have higher speed access that ever before—AFTER the plan to control the nets was jettisoned by the evil Donald Trump.

Looks like getting the government to stay on the sidelines, establishing broad goals but allowing the private sector to develop the tactics for achieving them, yields very positive results.