The regulatory quagmire and uncertainty of net neutrality and Title II has left many people dazed and confused -- and none more so than those in the tech industry. Almost one-third of those responding to the latest poll on The New IP are concerned that indecision around net neutrality will dampen investment, regardless of the final outcome. (See Net Neutrality, Title II and The New IP.)
As a sign of how split the industry is on the matter, however, the rest of the voters were closely divided over regulation's potential impact. Twenty-three percent of respondents think net neutrality rules will help The New IP by providing regulatory oversight for monopolies and allowing the Internet to flourish. A slightly smaller number -- 19% -- see net neutrality and potential re-regulation until Title II as a barrier to the New IP, interfering with competitive markets and slowing down network buildouts.
Title II, an attempt to break up what are essentially unregulated legal monopolies, would reclassify ISPs as common carriers and subject them to the same regulations as essential utilities like water and electricity. There is much debate over whether this is the right approach or not, but most folks agree that there is a need for increased competition.
At the bottom of the list on the poll, "I don't know. I really can't keep all the changes, recommendations and rulings straight," took 15% of the poll, while, "Not at all. The 2016 campaign will get in the way of any serious decision anytime soon so I'm not going to worry about it," took 11%.
While indecision seems to rule, most agree that there is need for regulation, but regulation that won't slow innovation and investment. Perhaps Dave Schaeffer, Cogent Communications founder and CEO, said it best in an interview with The New IP last month when he said, "The Internet has been such an engine of growth and innovation in our society, and anything that would deteriorate the Internet's capabilities such as a walled-garden approach would cause society far more harm than the benefit that accrues to the few providers who are extracting those monopoly tolls." (See Cogent's Steady Course in Rough Seas.)
If all of this is making your head spin, or you think you'll be cornered at the holiday dinner table by Granny Jo-Jo on net neutrality, you might want to read this clever pocket guide "How To Explain Net Neutrality To Your Relatives: A Thanksgiving Guide." Just swap out the word, "Thanksgiving" for "Holiday" and you'll be set.
And now for something completely different. For the rest of this year, I'm asking readers for their predictions on the biggest industry challenge for 2015. (See 2015 Industry Horoscope) Check it out and vote today.
— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Editor, The New IP