June 11 marked the second anniversary of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that removed Title II regulations on Internet providers, including rules that many called “net neutrality.” You probably didn’t even notice, did you?
There is a good reason for that, because not all the doomsday predictions about how the FCC movement under President Ajit Pai would destroy the Internet were not fulfilled.
If anything, how well the US Internet service has worked during the pandemic and orders to stay home shows that criticism of the repeal was overblown. FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr wrote of the economic shutdown period that “America’s Internet infrastructure is showing strength, speed, and resilience,” beating other countries.
In Europe, for example, Netflix and YouTube were asked to reduce their content to lower resolutions so that the data would not interfere with more important communications in countries with slow Internet. Bret Swanson, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, noted that Netflix devised an alternative solution to prioritize slower speeds for areas with larger health crises or less robust broadband. Swanson notes that this smart solution “is the kind of traffic management that Netflix and other advocates of strong net neutrality spent the past 15 years telling us it was bad for.”
Former FCC President Tom Wheeler, head of the commission under President Obama who imposed net neutrality regulations, was enthusiastic in April about how well the Internet was maintaining, writing to Brookings that “the credit is due to the nation’s broadband providers. “
Broadband Now discovered that some cities, particularly the largest cities in the US. In the US, they experienced slowdowns in speeds due to the massive increase in traffic. But the vast majority of networks still operated at speeds that “can support critical remote work and learning tasks.”
It is instructive to look back on a story in The New York Times about the repeal of the Title II rules on June 11, 2018, to see how pessimistic prophecies did not occur. That article hypothesized that providers could start selling bundled Internet, similar to cable bundles.
“Do you want to access Facebook and Twitter? Under a package system, accessing those sites could require the payment of a premium social media package, ”said a hyperbolic suggestion. That obviously did not happen.
Title II advocates’ main arguments were that providers could implement blocking, limitation, or paid prioritization, although those activities did not occur before Wheeler’s introduction of the new rules in 2015. An investigation by the Protection Alliance Taxpayer (TPA) found that limiting and blocking internet access did not occur in the year after the FCC terminated Title II regulations.
Among the hundreds of millions of Internet sessions in the United States, only a few hundred complaints about throttling or blocking were made to the FCC. Analysis of complaints showed that virtually everything could be explained as standard network problems rather than malicious intentions of providers. That list can be viewed here on the TPA website.
In addition to multiple complaints from many of the same users, many of the problems in that study dealt with vendors that slowed down speeds after reaching data limits, a practice that was never prohibited even when the net neutrality rules were in force.
Two years later, left-wing media outlets have worried about how well the internet works now after their hysteria claiming that the repeal of net neutrality in 2018 would doom the World Wide Web. After the breathless shots of two years ago, no one is willing to admit that he was wrong.
Google Trends paints an interesting picture of how the hype affected searches, and how the lack of searches now shows that the uproar over net neutrality was, in fact, just hype. The “net neutrality” searches peaked the week of December 10-16, 2017, when the FCC voted to begin the process of removing the Title II rules. Since then, “net neutrality” searches have averaged less than 1 percent of their total during this peak period.
Searches for “isp blocking” peaked at the same time. Last week, searches were about a third of the figure at the peak. The story is similar for “isp acceleration”. That term saw peak searches during the net neutrality rampage, but is now only 16 percent of the peak level.
Finally, “paid prioritization,” the concept that providers could charge certain websites more for access, peaked in 2015 when the new rules were established. Searches for that term are so low now that Google Trends is showing a zero metric for its score in recent months.
What does all the Google Trends data mean? If these aforementioned areas were really problems now, Internet users would likely search for these terms as regularly or more, as they did during the net neutrality hysteria. But they are not, because things like blocking, acceleration and paid prioritization are not happening.
Pai proved himself correct when he said that the impending regulations for innovation were based on “hypothetical harm and hysterical prophecies of doom.” Rumors of the death of the internet were greatly exaggerated as internet connectivity grows and fears of a world without “network neutrality” dissipate.
Johnny Kampis is a principal investigator and investigator for the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.