For the last four years, it has been a bombardment of panic porn in every crevice of the establishment press and every recess of the digital woketopia. President Donald Trump is about to start a nuclear war, the Kremlin has infiltrated the administration, and white supremacists occupy the White House. The asinine and hysterical left cried wolf so many times since 2016 that any legitimate concerns they have moving forward will be in doubt.
But of all the unfounded and absurd claims, the biggest fail has been the perpetual frenzy from progressive internet denizens regarding the online world’s fate, claiming that without net neutrality, the world wide web would metastasize into an ecosystem for the affluent. It has been more than two years since the death of net neutrality – has anything changed?
The idea behind net neutrality is that internet service providers, or ISPs, are mandated to treat all online communications equally. In other words, telecommunications companies are prohibited from charging customers more based on the website, platform, content, source address, or application. Despite being largely left alone for the last 25 years, net neutrality advocates ostensibly believe that the internet suddenly needed government interference.
In June 2018, Federal Communications Chair Ajit Pai put the kibosh on net neutrality and buried it in a coffin of other failed regulatory efforts. And, of course, the paranoia ensued, with leftists declaring that ISPs would block content, throttle websites, and force customers to utilize the internet in bundles. In other words, this was the end of the internet. Funeral at 11.
None of this transpired. The doomsday scenarios did not materialize. Rumors of the internet’s death had been greatly exaggerated. So, what did happen? You guessed it: Deregulation has spawned improvements, investments, and innovation across the nation.
Unplugging Net Neutrality
In November 2014, then-President Barack Obama mandated that the FCC reclassify high-speed broadband as a telecommunications service, making it subject to outdated federal regulations. He wanted to tap 19th-century laws to regulate a 21st-century technology. This resulted in a significant decline in annual broadband provider capital spending, falling to as low as $74.8 billion in 2016. While it did not impact major urban centers, the lack of investment did hurt rural communities. Today, however, broadband providers have increased their network infrastructure investments by more than $5 billion from 2016 levels to roughly $80 billion.
But telecom operators are not stopping there. Accenture Strategy estimates that these companies will spend up to $275 billion over the next seven years to construct the country’s 5G networks. This is expected to spill over into the broader economy with a projected $500 billion contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) and three million new jobs.
Moreover, according to a study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), U.S. broadband networks outperformed other nations to handle the traffic surge throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the 40% increase in traffic, U.S. internet providers maintained the same service levels without a significant performance drop.
How fast is the internet these days? The latest figures from Speedtest.net show that American customers are receiving about 135 Mbps of download speed and 52 Mbps of upload speed. This is the eighth-best in the world and doubled the global average. Researchers also note that this was a remarkable improvement from 2013 when the U.S. was ranked 25th out of 39 nations.
Overall, private investment has sustained download speeds, network reliability, and greater access nationwide. Former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA), the House Internet Caucus founder, discouraged the U.S. government from going the same route as Europe and treating the internet like a utility. He wrote in an op-ed for CIO that Europe is ostensibly lagging in broadband investment and failing to catch up to the growth in 5G. Why? Government – What else?
Don’t Tread on the Web
Despite net neutrality being uninstalled from Uncle Sam’s computer, the internet is still here. It is no different than what it was four years ago. You can always tweet President Trump, stream Liberty Nation content on YouTube, and launch your own social media outlet, a la Parler. As the adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The internet has been a beacon of freedom since its inception in the 1990s, proving that independence from state meddling and the mini-Maos can yield tremendous innovation.
Read more from Andrew Moran.