FCC to regulate the internet, but do we want regulation?

The FCC is proposing to regulate the internet, as it has regulated the phone network, so that they would be able to force internet providers to provide the entire internet. 

No matter how you feel about government regulations in general, the best thing to do whenever there is new regulations proposed is to determine why it's being proposed.  Then once you know have determined why, you can better decide if it is worth it.  I say worth it, because its always a cost to add regulation, so there is a basic math question of cost over benifit.  Government regulations, like the one that the FCC is now proposing, generally are created for three reasons.

The first is to help prevent abuse or harm to the public, like a financial regulation to prevent homeowners from being sold loans they can not afford to pay for.  The second is to regulate a market, like the home gas price regulation. Of course there are other reasons, like taxation in order to generate government incom, but since we are deciding if the reguation is worth it to us, let's focus on the first two.

Why regulate the internet?

The reason given by the FCC is to prevent internet service providers from harming consumers.  Commissioner Michael Copps of the FCC stated that he believes the internet needs regulation to help develop innovation.  The other reason, has to do with Comcast, and Net neutrality.  This is another attempt by the FCC to prevent Comcast from having its way.

How does this benefit us, and what does it cost.

The clear benefit is to stop comcast and other ISPs from dicing up the internet, and charging us ala cart to get services that we now have access to, such as YouTube and Pandora.  But what about the cost?  The internet is currently an open market, and it is very crowded with very large companies.  And currently when deciding between multiple ISPs, the only option is speed.  More upload and download speed is usually more expensive.

But what about the cost?  The cost is very hard to determine right now, but to many people, its scary.  They fear that this is just the beginning of the regulations, and they usually mention that this could allow the FCC to regulate internet content, say for preventing hate speech on the internet.  They could also add taxes for intenret use, they could force ISP's to service remote locations, costing them millions (something that would be passed on to conusmers), and the regulations itself might cost the ISPs to conform to them, and those costs would also be passed on to the consumers.

The takeaway

In the end, there no way to know today where this might go.  Currently we consumers are a the mercy of our ISP, but there are multiple choices for ISPs, and currently things are not so bad, and they are getting better with more options being created daily, such as WiMAX.

Since I am not sure the reasons are valid for the initial regulation, and I really can't say what the ultimate cost might be, this regulation is not something i have any interest in supporting.  I would like the FCC to stay out of my internet.

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