Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Regulating technology is a waste of time

A familiar question has taken on new urgency among media policymakers in Washington, but this time with a twist.

After spending decades debating whether cable companies should be treated as local monopolies that determine what you see on TV and how much you pay for it, lawmakers and regulators are beginning to wonder: Do cable companies now have a similar power to determine who gets high-speed Internet and at what speed and price?

Several industry critics say they do: With 55% of the USA's 76 million high-speed Internet customers, in addition to 63% of the 98 million pay-TV subscribers, cable companies' "market power is increasing, not decreasing — and they flex it aggressively," says Consumer Federation of America Research Director Mark Cooper.

The Federal Communications Commission seems to share that concern. On Tuesday, the agency said that it will continue its effort to promote "a free and open Internet" after the U.S. Court of Appeals sided with Comcast in a controversial case that challenged the FCC's authority to regulate high-speed Internet, known as broadband.

Haven't they learned by now that the technology develops faster than the ability to regulate it?

By the time we start regulating cable and cable supplied high speed internet access, everything will be wireless.

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