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					What Should the Government Do About Network Neutrality?
                 CS 4001A Spring 2012
                      Mark Young

                 Term Paper Approach
                    March 12, 2012

Claim: The government should handle network neutrality on a case-by-case basis using

antitrust law.

Reason: because it protects network neutrality without dramatically harming the


Grounds: Evidence showing that the other approaches would be insufficient or would

harm the industry:

        -   Full regulation would force regulators to control all aspects of the business of

            violators and would force them to predict whether individual actions would

            hurt network neutrality. (Yoo, 2006, 1896)

        -   No regulation (relying on the market to protect network neutrality) will not

            work because the ISP market is primarily a natural monopoly with very

            limited competition. (Lessig 2001, 35)

Possible Conditions of Rebuttal

        -   The ISP market is not entirely a natural monopoly because satellite-based

            ISPs can reach all consumers

        -   Evidence showing that the expected costs of protecting network neutrality

            exceeds the expected costs of network neutrality violations incurred by



Some aspects of network neutrality need to be ensured to prevent harm to the consumer

and to protect the competition in the market and are thus good.

Arguments demonstrating the potential harm to consumers and competition in the

industry if network neutrality were not protected.

       -   Mention the potential for ISPs to charge content providers for access to their

           customers, distorting the entire nature of the internet itself as well as limiting

           competition online.

       -   Due to the relative lack of options for consumers, ISPs could charge

           additional money for access to specific forms of online content, charging more

           without offering any new functionality.

Possible Conditions of Rebuttal

       -   ISPs have not yet done and may never do any of these actions.
       The internet is remarkable resource, perhaps the greatest invention of the

twentieth century. It is a creative wonderland: In around 20 years, an entirely new culture

has appeared around it, constantly exporting new ideas, new art, new entertainment, etc.

At its core, it is uncontrollable, unfiltered, and remarkably dispersed. What if this were

not so? What if your Internet Service Provider (ISP) were to charge you an extra fee

whenever you visited a site outside of a collection of sites that they maintained? What if

your ISP made all traffic to and from Google go twice as slow as that from a search

engine of their choice, perhaps one that paid them for the preferred speed? Currently, any

of these scenarios are perfectly legal and not without precedent: In 2007, Comcast

actively interfered with their customers’ P2P (peer to peer) traffic. These are all

violations of network neutrality: the idea that a network should aspire to treat all content,

sites, and platforms equally. (Wu, below) I believe that the government should protect

network neutrality on a case-by-case basis in the style of antitrust cases, acting only after

clear harm to consumers or competition in the ISP market is observed.

Tim Wu:
1. Introduction/Thesis

       a. [Introduction Placeholder]

2. Body

       a. Discussion on history of Telecommunications Regulation in America (Wu, 2003)

               i. The Era of State-Sanctioned Monopolies

                         1. Western Union was unregulated and no antitrust laws were in

                            place, leading to a monopoly and severe customer abuse, even

                            giving it enough power to control the flow of political

                            information and affect the national elections

                         2. In response to pressure from the Justice Department, AT&T

                            entered into the Kingsbury Commitment, which required it to

                            allow competiting local providers to connect to its long-distance

                            network. This agreement did not prevent it from engaging in

                            anti-competitive practices nor did it stop it from becoming a


               ii. The Era of Deregulation

                         1. The Carterfone decision forced AT&T to allow competitors to

                            provide information services over its lines

                         2. AT&T Split up in hopes of creating competition

                         3. ISPS were freed from the restrictions on telephony, transforming

                            the laws regulating ISPs into those from the time of Western


       b. Purely regulative systems for defending network neutrality are impractical

               i. Explanation of the system: When considering this issue, some propose

                   that the government should enforce network neutrality through

                   regulation, banning certain practices that violate network neutrality.
        ii. Regulators would have to control nearly all aspects of violators’ business

            (Yoo, 2006, 1896)

       iii. Regulation could actually reduce competition in the last-mile provider

            market. This lack of competition is what created the issue in the first

            place, making an already-bad problem even worse (Yoo, 2004, 29)

       iv. Enforcing pure network neutrality would place a heavy burden on ISPs,

            forcing them to maintain more than 60% more capacity in order to ensure

            continued quality of service. (Houle et al. 2007, 1)

c. Solutions relying on the ability of the free market alone to solve the issue are


         i. Explanation of the system: Another proposed solution is to rely on the
            free market to ensure network neutrality. This proposal suggests that
            ISPs who engage in non-neutral practices will go out of business as
            unsatisfied customers change ISP.
        ii. The free market can’t correct itself due to the already extremely limited

            nature of the industry (Lessig 2001, 35)

       iii. Approximately 71% of the American population has 2 or less broadband

            providers with at least 3 mbps downstream and 768 upstream. (FCC


       iv. This limited competition in the last mile of the network is not likely to

            improve due to the high fixed costs involved. (

d. Handling the issue on a case-by-case basis using antitrust law is the best solution

         i. This would allow the industry, which is still young and highly dynamic,

            to experiment with its practices, with the government only stepping in

            when a harm to competition is observed. (Yoo 2007, 530)

        ii. There simply is too little experience for anyone to predict the economic

            impact of banning certain practices. (Yoo 2009, 27)
                iii. Handling network neutrality on a case-by-case basis protects consumers

                    while recognizing that each case is different

3. Conclusion

      a. Summary

                 i. Stress the magnitude of the problem and the danger incurred if nothing is
                    done (paint a picture of an internet that goes against all of the principles
                    of network neutrality)
                ii. Briefly champion my proposal, very succinctly mentioning its key

                    benefits and also placing it in perspective of the history of

                    telecommunication regulation

      b. Call to Action/Closing Remarks:

                 i. Tell the audience to contact their representatives and provide information

                    explaining how they can get their representative’s contact information.

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