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More On Net Neutrality

Forbes magazine has been running a series of columns on telecom issues lately. Guest commentators have written on such topics as video franchising and net neutrality.

Today brings a different look at Net Neutrality as seen by a telecom lawyer. Peter Huber argues that the one group net neutrality will definitely be good for are his fellow lawyers.

The new Congress is determined to enact a “net neutrality” bill. Nobody yet knows what those two words mean. The new law won’t provide any intelligible answer, either. It will, however, put a real drag on new capital investment in faster digital pipes by making it illegal for many big companies to help pay for them, while leaving everyone guessing about the details for years. That last bit is great news for all the telecom lawyers (like me) who get paid far too much to make sense out of idiotic new laws like this one…

…A simple two-word law is all we really need–an equal rights amendment for bits.

It will be a 2 million-word law by the time Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and the courts are done with it. Grand principles always end up as spaghetti in this industry, because they aim to regulate networks that are far more complicated than anything you have ever seen heaped up beside an amusing little glass of chianti.

If anything should make you nervous about a net neutrality bill, it should be the gleeful amusement of a telecom lawyer chortling about the billable hours he’ll incur trying to make sense of it for a bewildered public. That alone should tell you this bill is not what its proponents would have you believe.

(Disclaimer: While I work for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, this post should in no way be construed as an official position of the Association. Thoughts in this space are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the views of my employer.)

Written by Michael Turk