Editor’s note: Today, a wide variety of people, companies and organizations – from the largest to smallest – are planning a protest in favor of “net neutrality” rules that the new Republican-led FCC opposes. International and widely known consultant John Strand of the Strand firm in the U.K., whose company has reported extensively about net neutrality on a global basis, offers his analysis of what’s really going on: Silicon Valley traffics in the “free market for me, but not for thee” hypocrisy. 

LONDON – Online activism for net neutrality activism is nothing new. Strand Consult describes how Silicon Valley regulates its competitors to maintain market dominance.

It’s no surprise that online protests for net neutrality are driven by slick marketing campaigns with state of the art database, analytics and content management systems. In contrast to the homegrown, grassroots they pretend to portray, in online protests, every click is coupled with website optimization, and each user’s name is cataloged and recycled for the next campaign.

The big internet companies Google, Netflix, and Amazon like to freeride on this “stick it to the man” ethos to create the appearance that they are mere proletariats. The reality is that their market cap is greater than the GDP of most countries. They do this campaigning as a way to make their employees not feel guilty about being part of the corporate machine. It’s a deceit to their employees and the public.

Silicon Valley traffics in the “free market for me, but not for thee” hypocrisy. These companies would never agree to submit to the rules they want their competitors to play by.  They enjoy the freedom to  manage their networks in a non-neutral fashion and a free market for their own data, but don’t want telecom operators to have such advantages because: 

(1) that would mean competition for internet services and

(2) a better experience for consumers.

It’s no surprise that there is an online advertising oligopoly and that YouTube and Netflix account for the vast majority of the Internet’s traffic. Net neutrality rules have the perverse effect of strengthening the largest internet companies, concentrating their market share, revenue and traffic. Many telecom regulators, seduced by activists paid by the internet companies, have implemented rules to regulate telecom operators down the drain. But in so doing, regulators have weakened the one actor which could provide a credible source of competition to online platforms – telecom operators. It’s too bad; consumers could be enjoying lower priced broadband and a better experience, and advertising revenue would be more diffused across a larger group of companies.

Much is said and written about net neutrality, but the vast majority of claims are devoid of facts. Strand Consult is one of the few which has studied net neutrality empirically, and its research is tapped by regulators and operators around the world. Following are a few of Strand consult’s Research Notes on Net Neutrality. (To learn more, order a Strand Consult report.)

  • Net neutrality is place or on track in at least 50 countries – Strand Consult’s new report compares the rules, legal instruments, provisions, and outcomes.
  • Net neutrality: Feelings may be justified in the debate, but there is no excuse not to follow an evidence-based approach to regulation.
  • 10 reasons not to trust BEREC on net neutrality. The EU process to create Open Internet guidelines lacks transparency, independence and credibility.
  • Why did BEREC invite Google’s top net neutrality lobbyist to write the telecom rules?
  • Net neutrality advocates are the new ambulance chasers in EU. They write the rules, create the complaints, and bully the regulators into adjudication.
  • Tesla’s bundling of zero rated Spotify with a SIM card is a violation of the EU’s net neutrality rules.
  • EU and BEREC celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution with increasing “nationalization” of the telecom industry.
  • Free report: “The moment of truth – a portrait of the fight for hard net neutrality regulation by Save The Internet and other internet activists”.
  • Strand Consult launches 7 Reports on Net Neutrality – Tap the world’s leading knowledge center on Open Internet rulemaking.

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