Net Neutrality: Internet Regulation and the Plans to Bring It Back

from the book Regulation and Economic Opportunity: Blueprints for Reform

Executive Summary

Net neutrality, like other policies, sounds uncontroversial yet refers to a specific and highly contentious policy. In this chapter, economist Ted Bolema defines net neutrality as the Federal Communication Commission’s 2015 rule, “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” and examines the effects of its repeal in 2017. Dr. Bolema points out that many investments that could make internet access easier and cheaper are deterred because of the confusion and uncertainty around how access to the internet is regulated. Uncertainty about how regulations will affect investments make investors wary about expansions. To better promote internet access that is affordable and fast, this chapter suggests:

  • Congress should clarify the issues that have been going back-and-forth between FCC administrations to promote certainty about regulatory policy regarding internet service providers (ISPs). 
  • A promising policy is for Congress to define ISPs as Title I information services and preclude states from making their own rules under the authority of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause.
  • Regulators should allow paid prioritization in the same way that the Post Office allows consumers to choose between overnight deliveries and standard postage or that airlines sell tickets in business class and economy.
CGO scholars and fellows frequently comment on a variety of topics for the popular press. The views expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Growth and Opportunity or the views of Utah State University.