You are here
Lessig's "thin rule" for Net Neutrality is really "thin gruel" in his FT editorial
Submitted by Scott Cleland on Thu, 2006-10-19 15:18
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 professorÃ‚ did inÃ‚ his Financial Times editorial: "Congress must keep broadband competition alive." Ã‚ It also seems as if Professor Lessig could benefit from a brush-up tutorial from one of his colleagues on how toÃ‚ accurately evaluateÃ‚ 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 percentÃ‚ of the market."
WhatÃ‚ Professor Lessig fails to explain was that six years ago we basically had NO broadband competition, because we had a de factoÃ‚ monopoly forÃ‚ wholesale InternetÃ‚ 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,Ã‚ 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.Ã‚
What Mr. Lessig really laments is the decrease in the faux/artificial regulatory-favored Internet Access resellersÃ‚ that basically competed on brand; and the increaseÃ‚ in REAL inter-modal competitors that can truly compete on price, speed, innovative features, andÃ‚ mobility among other differentiators that consumers value about competition. Ã‚ Ã‚
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 theÃ‚ last three years and that competitive supply is vibrantly increasing.
MaybeÃ‚ Professor Lessig should take some more classes in economics and antitrust to bone up on the fact that competitiveness of markets are truly measured byÃ‚ effective pricing, byÃ‚ the trend of competitive entry and by the amount of innovation. Only undergrad coursesÃ‚ covering antitrust would consider it sufficient to count the number of competitors in a market and then declareÃ‚ a marketÃ‚ not competitive. Responsible scholars of competition understand that the competitive facts can vary widely in various makets, and that the number of competitors alone isÃ‚ insufficient data to determine the competiveness of a market. Ã‚ Ã‚ I am sure there are anyÃ‚ number of attorneys with "real world" experience in analyzing competition at the DOJ AntitrustÃ‚ DivisionÃ‚ or at the FTC who would beÃ‚ happy to giveÃ‚ Professor Lessig a little tutorial on this before he opines on this topic again on the world stage. Ã‚
Loose Fact #3:
- Lessig said: "NetworkÃ‚ owners now want to changeÃ‚ this by charging companies different rates to get access to a 'premiumÃ‚ Internet.'"Ã‚ [bold added for emphasis]
- This is the way the Internet hasÃ‚ operated since it was commercialized in 1995. There have long been been three Internet backbone tiers of service. And companies have long paid forÃ‚ a "premium" Internet since theyÃ‚ upgraded from dialup to broadband! What planet has Mr. Lessig been onÃ‚ that he didn't notice thatÃ‚ companies pay for a "premium" Internet every day?Ã‚ Has he ever heard of the AkamaiÃ‚ "premium" service which has beenÃ‚ used byÃ‚ most all the biggest online companies to get "premium" Internet service? Ã‚
Next time pleaseÃ‚ addÃ‚ someÃ‚ analytical substance and factual accuracy to the "thin gruel" of your argument,Ã‚ ProfessorÃ‚ Lessig.Ã‚