op-ed

The Internet Is Stronger Than Ever, So Leave The FCC’s Title II Order Alone

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Johnny Kampis Contributor

As the fight to restore Title II regulations on internet service providers – the so-called effort to save net neutrality – marches on, the internet is humming along quite nicely, thank you very much.

Internet protocol traffic in the United States is expected to reach 48,272 petabytes per month this year, an increase from 39,344 petabytes in 2017, according to a recent study of market trends released by U.S. Telecom: The Broadband Association. This is an astonishing 22 percent increase since the internet supposedly died after the Title II regulations were removed in December 2017.  

A petabyte is 1 million gigabytes. Yes, that’s a lot of data. And it will only continue to grow, according to U.S. Telecom.

The projected number for American internet protocol traffic in 2021 is 79,640 petabytes per month, or the equivalent of 218 billion DVDs worth of data that year.

As emerging technologies like 5G are expected to become available in the next few years, mobile’s share of the pie is expected to grow – from 2,475 petabytes per month in 2018 to 5,644 per month in 2021. But growth will come in all categories, according to the study, with fixed consumer video, data and businesses expected to see a big jump along with wireless.

The report also anticipates what many experts also expect: the percentage of traffic that relies on fiber is expected to decrease as wireless traffic increases. Wireline traffic represented 61 percent of total U.S. internet protocol traffic in 2016, compared to 35 percent Wi-Fi and 4 percent mobile. In 2021, wired traffic is expected to make up half of total traffic, while Wi-Fi grows to 43 percent and mobile climbs to 7 percent.

Despite the cries of Chicken Little liberals, there’s no evidence that the internet sky is falling following the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) vote to roll back Obama administration rules. The overturned rules were in fact undermining broadband growth, as private providers faced uncertainty over which rules would apply.

Advocates of restored regulation are now putting their energy behind the Congressional Review Act (CRA). Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said he plans to introduce a CRA resolution on May 9 to roll back the FCC order. He recently tweeted a picture (yes, on the internet that he thinks is “broken”) of the resolution containing the required 30 signatures to force the CRA vote.

That move is part of a number of efforts from the left to undermine the decision of the FCC under Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, with the fight coming at both the federal and state levels.

Nearly two dozen attorneys general from primarily Democratic states have sued the FCC for its decision, and a handful of Democratic governors want to require internet service providers to comply with the vacated federal rules as a condition of doing business with their state’s government.

A group of websites, that include Foursquare and Tumblr, plan to participate on May 9 in a “red alert” campaign, an online call-to-action organized by Fight for the Future. This campaign will implore people to flood congressional offices with phone calls and e-mails in support of the CRA.

But others argue the CRA is just noise. TechFreedom President Berin Szoka called it “a distraction from substantive legislation.”

A CRA, first implemented in 1996, allows Congress to reverse a federal regulation by passing a joint resolution disapproving it within 60 days of enactment. A successful CRA vote would block future consideration of the FCC’s Title II decision.

The CRA stands a chance of passing the Senate, even as it faces a big uphill climb in the House. President Trump has said he’d veto it, so the CRA making it through seems highly unlikely.  But, it’s a chance that shouldn’t be taken.

A better option is a bill from Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) that would prevent ISPs from blocking content, throttling speeds and establishing paid prioritization. It also would require transparency by providers in their network management practices and place broadband internet access services under its own new classification.

Coffman said the “frequent regulatory fluctuations” of the FCC is inhibiting broadband innovation and expansion. Rather than have the whims of that agency determine those rules depending on which party is in power, Coffman argues it’s the job of Congress.

He’s right. Rather than play tug of war with the FCC’s rules, Democrats would be smarter to work with Republicans to codify net neutrality principles on Capitol Hill.

So, relax: the internet is fine and there is no need for heavy-handed regulations.

Johnny Kampis is investigative reporter for the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.