NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 13, 2006

When the Internet was created, its guiding principle was that everyone would be free to use it in a way that was privately beneficial without being publicly detrimental, but now many companies are advocating for more regulation, says Charles Giancarlo, senior vice president of Cisco System.

At issue is "net neutrality," the ideal that network designs and operators should not discriminate between network applications. But is regulation really needed to accomplish net neutrality? At this point, no, says Giancarlo:

  • The Internet is still in its adolescence, and it is undergoing rapid change.
  • Regulation would lock in rules and practices that might seem correct today, but could create havoc tomorrow.
  • Instead, we should allow the massive convergence to Internet technology to continue unabated, and regulators should address specific problems on a case-by-case basis.

Moreover, we need to foster and maintain innovation of the Internet infrastructure, services and operating devices to ensure that consumers have access to safe and legal applications, says Giancarlo:

  • As the demands on the Internet grow, consumers, businesses and service providers are increasingly insisting that it be reliable and be able to meet new demands in the future, which is why it is critical that service providers be able to develop their networks to provide support for all communication needs.
  • Moreover, new network technologies and management tools not only keep the Internet flowing, they also spur innovation; soon, personalized Internet HDTV will become possible and business tools, such as video conferencing, will become more significant as the quality of video and audio improves.

Furthermore, Congress must protect freedom and openness on the Internet, while promoting responsibility and fairness among its users, and the ability of providers to compete on technology and services. With forbearance and wise policies, we can actually ensure that innovation and growth continue and that consumers win, says Giancarlo.

Source: Charles H. Giancarlo, "Neutrality Check," Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2006.

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