The benefits and risks of mandating network neutrality

Express lanes at grocery stores only allow those with a certain number of items to receive expedited checkout.The hypothetical fear that broadband companies will use blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization in order to extort higher prices from users and content providers is unlikely to happen in the current global market.Although the consumer harms that net neutrality regulations are designed to prevent remain largely hypothetical, the harmful unintended consequences of those regulations are very real.The broadband market in Europe, which has long been regulated like a utility, has experienced only half as much investment in wireline service as the United States.Charging those users more allows for more efficient usage of limited bandwidth, and provides an incentive to internet service providers to build more network infrastructure, which would accommodate more usage down the road.That position is partially supported by a July 2014 draft paper produced by two FCC officials, which use a model to show that overall market efficiency is improved if broadband providers are allowed to charge for fast lanes.Louis University and a long-time advocate for net neutrality.President Barack Obama earlier this month put the spotlight on the issue when he called on the FCC to “implement the strongest possible rules to protect net neutrality.” But he muddied the debate when it comes to healthcare by saying the rule, “can have clear, monitored exceptions for reasonable network management and for specialized services such as dedicated, mission-critical networks serving a hospital.”But many critics of a net neutrality rule believe that allowing internet service providers to charge for a “fast lane” or “paid prioritization” would be helpful for innovation.

Telehealth and electronic record data exchange are the two primary areas of healthcare that would suffer were internet service providers allowed to charge higher prices for faster transmission speeds, say those who back net neutrality.“I don't think people realize how much net neutrality can affect health services,” said Mark Gaynor, an associate professor of health management and policy at St.

But net neutrality has come to mean the straightjacketing of the Internet by treating broadband providers like public utilities (like phone or cable companies) under the same 1934 regulatory regime used to govern the old AT&T Ma Bell telephone monopoly.

For example, under the FCC's net neutrality regulations, a wireless broadband provider may not prioritize video-chat applications—which can suffer greatly during periods of network congestion—over other applications.

Simply put, after decades of enjoying a hands-off approach from Washington that allowed a vibrant, open, and free Internet to flourish, the new FCC rules subject the Internet to more government control than it has ever known in the United States.

Will net neutrality regulation help or hurt the average consumer?

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