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Lessig's "thin rule" for Net Neutrality is really "thin gruel" in his FT editorial

Stanford Law Professor Lessig's proposed "thin rule" on net neutrality is really "thin gruel."

I hope Professor Lawrence Lessing doesn't let his students get away with playing as fast and loose with the facts as the professor did in his Financial Times editorial: "Congress must keep broadband competition alive."  It also seems as if Professor Lessig could benefit from a brush-up tutorial from one of his colleagues on how to accurately evaluate the competitiveness of markets.

Loose Fact #1:

Loose Fact #2

  • Professor Lessig asserts: "There are fewer competitors offering broadband connectivity today than there were just six years ago. The median consumer has a choice between just two broadband providers. Four companies account for a majority of all consumer broadband; 10 companies account for 83 percent of the market."
  • What Professor Lessig fails to explain was that six years ago we basically had NO broadband competition, because we had a de facto monopoly for wholesale Internet access called dialup, which had lots of resellers of the underlying monopoly service, which Mr. Lessig likes to call competitors. Over the last six plus years, the free and open Internet that has been unfettered by regulation has created a steady increase in real inter-modal broadband competitors/choices for consumers. 
  • What Mr. Lessig really laments is the decrease in the faux/artificial regulatory-favored Internet Access resellers that basically competed on brand; and the increase in REAL inter-modal competitors that can truly compete on price, speed, innovative features, and mobility among other differentiators that consumers value about competition.  Â 
  • What Mr. Lessig conveniently omits from his assertion that "broadband competition is dying" is the pesky little truth that real broadband prices have fallen by over half over the last three years and that competitive supply is vibrantly increasing. Maybe Professor Lessig should take some more classes in economics and antitrust to bone up on the fact that competitiveness of markets are truly measured by effective pricing, by the trend of competitive entry and by the amount of innovation. Only undergrad courses covering antitrust would consider it sufficient to count the number of competitors in a market and then declare a market not competitive. Responsible scholars of competition understand that the competitive facts can vary widely in various makets, and that the number of competitors alone is insufficient data to determine the competiveness of a market.  Â I am sure there are any number of attorneys with "real world" experience in analyzing competition at the DOJ Antitrust Division or at the FTC who would be happy to give Professor Lessig a little tutorial on this before he opines on this topic again on the world stage.  

Loose Fact #3:

  • Lessig said: "Network owners now want to change this by charging companies different rates to get access to a 'premium Internet.'" [bold added for emphasis]
  • This is the way the Internet has operated since it was commercialized in 1995. There have long been been three Internet backbone tiers of service. And companies have long paid for a "premium" Internet since they upgraded from dialup to broadband! What planet has Mr. Lessig been on that he didn't notice that companies pay for a "premium" Internet every day? Has he ever heard of the Akamai "premium" service which has been used by most all the biggest online companies to get "premium" Internet service?  

Next time please add some analytical substance and factual accuracy to the "thin gruel" of your argument, Professor Lessig. 

Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths