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Should the FCC Regulate Broadband?

Posted June 09, 2010 7:49 AM

In the country where the Internet was launched, more than 100 million Americans do not have access to broadband services. The FCC has come out with some bold ideas in its "Omnibus Broadband" initiative and says that in today's business world, the U.S. needs high speed access to remain competitive. Others disagree, saying the FCC doesn't have the authority and by doing so, is violating free-market rules. The FCC's plans have gone into limbo. Should we leave them there?

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Re: Should the FCC Regulate Broadband?

06/09/2010 10:00 AM

I guess this is boiling down to whether internet access is a federal "Right", just like healthcare was pitched. This means that for the 100 million that do not have broadband access, the remaining tax paying population should dig deeper into their pockets and pony up for those that don't.

My contention is no, broadband internet is not a "Right". Here are some of my observations why.

The 100 million number also is misleading. That number includes children. The better way to phrase it is by NTIA numbers of 35% of US homes do not have it.

Of those 35%, 20% don't want it. They are either happy with dialup or just don't want to connect. 30% can not afford it or simply do not want to pay the cost. 10% feel they don't have the skill and another 10% are afraid. The later 20% is probably mostly elderly people.

Many of us have heard of elderly people. They are the wrinkly people that grew up reading books.

The reality is not that broadband is not accessible to that 35% of homes. Almost anywhere there is power available for running electronics you can get satellite internet service. The issue is one of desire and economics.

Some people do not care or want the internet. Some people just don't have the $500 or so to spend each year on internet service when they can buy food or shelter instead.

The FCC contends that children that do not have broadband internet are falling behind. Behind what? My girlfriend's son has internet and uses it for two purposes. One is to text friends. The other is to play video games. Without internet he would be a social setback and no doubt ostracized from his peers for not knowing how to play Farmville or bubble pop.

As far as actually learning browser surfing skills, you can do that in a few hours at the school library. A library (for those unfamiliar with the term) is a big building with books in it, most likely opened by wrinkly people. The young smooth skinned people have their noses in LCD displays looking up pictures of their favorite teen pop star and playing bubble pop.

As far as the business world goes, what percentage of business lack broadband internet? Let's exclude service stations, flower shops, brothels, and other small businesses that clearly do not rely on connectivity to the net to function. Instead, look at the number of businesses that rely on the internet as a means to disseminate large volumes of data back and forth. I think that number is pretty close to zero. The logic behind that assumption is that if it is essential for day-to-day operation, like electricity, they will already have it, or already be out-of-business.

I am not so sure that the FCC needs to regulate Broadband, but I am sure that we need to regulate the FCC.

This opinion piece was brought to via Roadrunner Broadband Internet.

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Re: Should the FCC Regulate Broadband?

06/09/2010 2:02 PM

Well of course the FCC should regulate Broadband and correct the obvious shortcomings of the free market.


Broadband isn't just a right of the people to have, it is a duty of the people to use. The government has obligation not only to force internet providers to supply broadband everywhere, but also has the obligation to make sure all citizens are taking advantage of this wonderful resource... I don't think mandating that each citizen be surfing the web for at least an hour a day is out of line with many of the other universal proposals of recent.


After all, the government really is the best group to be making the decisions.

Unlike businesses, the government is largely free of any of the profoundly influences of experiences common to those in industry, like;

staying within budget, working with customers, competition, and government regulations (gasp!). This keeps the government free of unnatural market based biases.

Better than the consumers, the government is free of any of the infantile obsessions that effect consumers' ability to make decisions, like quality, price, service and features. the Government makes decisions free of any of these plebeian distractions.


Still not convinced? Just consider how well the government already runs so many institutions for which the prospect of interaction probably brings as much joy to your souls as it does to mine.....



Traffic Court


Code Enforcement





.... Need I go on? I think the point has been irrefutably established.

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Re: Should the FCC Regulate Broadband?

06/10/2010 9:22 AM

You forgot the post office! :)

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