Departing Republican FCC Commissioner Calls Net Neutrality a Failure

Departing FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell (Republican) says that one of the commission's biggest failures was net neutrality while one of its greatest triumphs while he was there was reform of the Universal Service Fund. He along with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (Democrat) announced last week that they would be leaving the agency shortly.

Speaking to Ars Technica, McDowell said that Net Neutrality was a mistake and a failure. In 2010 the FCC approved net neutrality rules that prevented Internet service providers from blocking "lawful traffic" and banning discrimination against competitive services running over the ISP's networks. The rules had a number of shortcomings like exempting wireless providers and not defining what providers could do when it came to data capping or throttling customer connections. Still McDowell didn't like the net neutrality rules at all:

"I just think it was needlessly disruptive and a diversion of FCC resources. But it remains to be seen what the courts think of it," McDowell said.

"First of all, I've been a strong advocate for a free and open Internet," he told Ars. "What I opposed really focused on, first of all, there is no market failure that needed to be addressed. Second, the FCC did not have the statutory authority to do what it did. Third, if there had been a problem there were laws already on the books that would have addressed the problem."

"There wasn't a problem before the rules and there's not a problem with any danger of a closed Internet in this country after the rules. For those who think the rules have preserved an open Internet, that's sort of like a rooster taking credit for the sunrise."

He added that the impact on business is unknown at this point.

As for the FCC's biggest success under Genachowski, McDowell said the 2011 reform of the Universal Service Fund was the biggest accomplishment. He called this "the first federal entitlement reform since the 1996 Welfare Reform Act was passed by the Republican Congress and signed by Bill Clinton."

The reform saw change in the fund originally designed to subsidize rural phone companies and eliminated some redundant spending within the program.

"We eliminated duplicate subsidies for more than one company serving the same area," McDowell said. "And we introduced competitive market incentives such as reverse auctions for the awarding of some of the subsidies. And then most importantly, we repurposed it to support broadband."

While McDowell wouldn't say what he planned on doing next, lobbying the FCC won't be one of his activities for a few years because the rules say that he cannot engage in lobbying to the agency for at least two years..

You can read the full story here.

Source: Ars Technica


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