Is the Open Internet Order an “Economics-Free Zone”?

In its Open Internet Order, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) controversially redefined broadband provision as a service subject to “Title II” common carrier regulation. It claimed it was doing so to prevent broadband providers – cable, fiber, wireless – from charging content suppliers for delivery at all or for higher quality service, a practice known in the trade as “paid prioritization.” The FCC’s motive may not involve economics and competition. It rather may be “public interest” civic and cultural populist values that the Internet “belongs to everybody.” The Open Internet Order was not really an economics-free zone. But were those civic and cultural norms the real concern, perhaps it should have been.

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