Is Government or Industry Responsible for the Cable ISP Situation?

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Here in the United States we have a problem with our Internet speeds. I’m not an expert on this, but I think I may know the reason(s).

  • Countries that have extremely fast, cheap, and accessible Internet have made it a national priority to do so. They don’t listen to companies who think they can make more money by keeping speeds down and prices up.

  • In the United States there’s virtually no competition causing the big companies to raise their speeds and/or lower their prices.

So the question of a solution to the problem here seems straightforward: Either

  1. Have the government force companies to hit some sort of national standard for the purpose of making the United States look good to others, or

  2. Have the government incentivize and otherwise enable other companies to enter the market and compete against the big boys

Now, this raises the critical question: Who’s fault is the current lack of competition?

People on the right tend to say that government enabled Comcast to take over the industry. People on the left tend to say that something being natural (i.e. without intervention) doesn’t make it right, i.e. that it’s natural for large companies to become even more effective and crushing competitors.

In my opinion the problem is fetishizing the free market. We need to take that off the mantle and replace it with the desired outcomes.

  • We want faster speeds at lower prices

  • We want more competition in the marketplace

  • Etc.

We currently can’t get good download speeds. And now they’re throttling Netflix. Why? All in the name of money and profit.

The answer seems clear: We need to incentivize more companies to enter the market, and we should also consider requiring (via the government) to provide a certain minimum of service speed and maximum of price.

These seem evil and overbearing to many on the right, which is ironic since it’s their Republican leadership who is voting against net neutrality and other initiatives that would improve competition.

It’s cognitive dissonance at full strength.

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