A funny thing happens when economists get together: They discuss the real impacts of public policy. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) participated in these discussions? In particular, wouldn’t it be nice if the FCC knew that: (1) Technology-based competition drives broadband progress and adoption more than regulation-driven competition does; (2) High market shares are a sign of market success, not market failure; and (3) The FCC’s universal service programs are expensive and largely ineffective.
Let’s resolve in 2016 to let tech serve the poor everywhere. It is unlikely that we could find anyone who thinks it is a good idea to stand in the way of tech serving the poor. Still, the proponents of recent tech policy proposals are, whether they intend to or not, doing just that.
How is this happening? In recent years, many people and countries have embraced net neutrality, a concept that has a liberating ring to it, but in reality is anything but. Net neutrality began as an ambiguity and has morphed into an illusion that, in the name of doing good, is hurting the most vulnerable among us.