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Clock Ticks for Democrats’ Bad Move on Net Neutrality

Senate Democrats could seek to reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” by Monday. While their attempt has no chance of passing the Republican-controlled House or avoiding a President Trump veto, the move panders to severely misinformed activists.

Democrats have invoked the Congressional Review Act, which grants Congress the authority to repeal federal rules with simple majorities, to reinstate Title II “net neutrality” regulations. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai repealed these regulations last year, citing net neutrality’s detrimental effects on broadband investment and innovation. Senate Dems have forty-nine cosponsors on review legislation, exceeding the threshold of thirty for a vote by April 23rd.

Liberal activists often cite fears of censorship, monopolization, and slowed Internet speeds as justifications for Title II regulations, but none are accurate. Title II instead acts like a subsidy for bandwidth-intensive websites like Netflix and Youtube. Internet service providers (ISPs), which compete by offering fast speeds, simply want network management capabilities. That way, they can provide the fastest service possible to customers.

Network management is necessary because all bits traveling across the Internet aren’t equal. Video-streaming services require heavy, uninterrupted connections. Any disruption or latency, and your video buffers. Other services don’t have these problems. ISPs want to maximize speed for everybody, which is the fundamental idea behind beleaguered “paid-prioritization” agreements hated by left-wing activists.

In a free market, an ISP would be able to ask a company like Netflix, which occupies 35 percent of bandwidth alone on any day in the United States, to pay more for guaranteed fast speeds. This is due to the increased burden companies like Netflix place on ISP infrastructure. The ISP can then reinvest profits in high-capacity networks like 5G technology that benefit everybody.

Activists slander paid-prioritization as “gaming the system” against small startup websites, another false claim. Paid-prioritization benefits smaller websites by allowing ISPs to expand bandwidth capacity. Otherwise, every site would pay the same prices to ISPs. Less intensive bandwidth websites would be priced out of the market, and the result would be a congested, slow Internet. Big burdens from high traffic video-streams would smash connectivity for remaining small sites, and they’d be forced to subsidize this awful system.

Chairman Pai’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order brought back the pre-2014 Internet regulatory framework that allowed for the web to become what it is today. Innovation will continue to thrive now that these rules have been restored. By legalizing paid-prioritization, ISPs can use pricing systems that make sense. None of this deals with the ISP-consumer relationship. Repealing net neutrality has nothing to do with the prices you pay for internet service. It’s all about the relationship between ISPs and content companies online. To understand why Democrat net neutrality infatuation hurts the Internet, think of a delivery truck. It makes no sense to charge the same shipping price for a 500lbs package as a 5lbs package. The heavier package likely uses more space, labor, and fuel. Meanwhile the 5lbs package is easy to handle and store. Charging two prices – a big price for big packages and a cheap price for small packages – is an efficient, fair outcome. Attacking “paid prioritization” would make no sense in any other industry.

The internet should be the same way. Bandwidth intensive video streamers should pay more money to ISPs if ISPs find such a deal to be advantageous. Low-bandwidth functions that don’t involve streaming, like email, blogs, or messaging should pay less. That way, ISPs can guarantee fast service for functions that need it while decongesting the web for everyone else.

Title II regulations harmed our internet. Let’s hope Senate Democrats are unsuccessful at bringing them back.