Technology & Innovation

Confusing Essential Service and Public Utilities Through Net Neutrality

July 12, 2016

In June, a federal court upheld the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to reclassify broadband internet access as a public utility to enforce “net neutrality.”

Writing for The Washington Post, Larry Downes argues that this decision will stifle innovation and deliver worse service to consumers.

Downes contends that proponents of classifying broadband internet on the basis of its necessity are conflating essential services and public utilities. Food, clothing, and shelter are essential, yet none are regulated as public utilities such as electricity, gas, and water.

According to Downes, public utilities don’t compete, innovate, or actually serve consumers. By regulating broadband internet access as a public utility, the negative side-effects of public utilities will also plague internet access and result in less competition, less innovation, and anti-consumer behavior.