Tim Brennan reflects on economic implications of federal court decision to uphold the FCC’s net neutrality rules

Last month, a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) net neutrality rules, the idea that Internet service providers should allow access to all content and applications without favoring or charging differently by user. Tim Brennan, a professor of public policy and economics and former FCC chief economist, published an article in The Free State Foundation journal, reflecting on the economic implications of the decision and arguments on both sides of the issue.

In his article “Is the Open Internet Order an ‘Economics-Free Zone‘?,” Brennan explains that economics was indeed in the order, but he goes through several points including the ideas of “paid prioritization” and a “virtuous cycle” that were included in the Open Internet Order and explained his view of how they didn’t match up with the evidence.

Brennan offered potential alternatives to the Open Internet Order, including regulating the price that broadband suppliers charge for content delivery, and he also commented on why both sides fought so hard over the issue.

“The broadband industry may have feared even stronger regulation,” he explained, adding “…From the government’s side, a speculative possibility may be that if the U.S. government allows broadband providers to charge content suppliers for delivery, it will invite broadband providers in other countries to extract delivery fees from the dominant U.S. content suppliers, such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Netflix.”

Read the full article on the Free State Foundation website.

Image: Tim Brennan speaks at a 2015 research forum on campus. Photo by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC.