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Republicans protest net neutrality rules, fearing a chilling effect on broadband investment (or was it profits?)

The U.S. is 28th worldwide in broadband speeds, more than four times slower than South Korea. Yet Republican House members are protesting the FCC's net neutrality rules, saying the regulations will slow investment. As if it could get any slower.
Written by Richard Koman, Contributor
After a a false start, Republican opposition to the FCC's net neutrality rules has really amped up with two attack letters from Republican camps.

First there's a letter from Rep. Cliff Stearn, ranking Republican on the House subcommittee on communications and the Internet. Stearns doesn't accept the surface view of net neutrality as "reasonable and harmless," but looks deeper to discover that:

These mandates would harm consumers, reduce competition, and discourage new investment and innovation at a time of tremendous technological growth.

Steans wants the FCC to engage is a full survey of the broadband lansdscape to prove that the market is somehow in need of regulation.

The FCC bears the responsibility to prove a market failure, especially since its 2002, 2005, 2006, and 2007 decisions on cable modem service, digital subscriber line service, broadband over power line service, and wireless broadband service were predicated on the notion that the broadband market nationwide is competitive and that regulation is unwarranted. If after this analysis you conclude that intervention is necessary, the intervention should be tailored to your analysis and should be the minimum required to prevent the practices you have identified as appropriate targets of regulation.

Previously Republican leaders Rep. John Boehner and Eric Cantor sent a letter to President Obama demanding the completion of the broadband plan, surveying the marketplace, and even the conclusion that no net neutrality regs are needed.

But let's look at these claims. Has the strategy of unfettered private investment in the Internet really worked so well? According to the Communications Workers of America, the U.S. ranks 28th in download speeds, fully four times slower that South Korea's 20.4 megabits per second. Japan's second at 15.8 mbps.

"The US has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the Internet," the report said. "Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries. People in Japan can upload a high-definition video in 12 minutes, compared to a grueling 2.5 hours at the US average upload speed," the report said.

And hey, guess what? Those Asian countries have very active government support for and investment in Internet infrastructure. Sure wouldn't want any government interference with the great job our telecom industry is doing here in the U.S.

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