Utility vs Information Service
I saw this headline on the New York Times today:
F.C.C. Is Expected to Propose Regulating Internet Service as a Utility
Now you can argue whether regulating the last mile Internet is a good idea and we have done that ad naseum here at AVC over the years.
But if you accept that some regulations are necessary, you are then faced with the question of whether you should classify last mile Internet as a “utility” or an “information service” as is currently the case.
The decision by then FCC Commissioner Michael Powell to classify internet access (the last mile) as an information service a decade ago is really what’s at stake in this net neutrality debate.
An “information service” is something like AOL or maybe even Wikipedia. It is a service that provides information to a user. The wire (or fiber) that Comcast, Verizon, or some other telco runs from their network to your home or office is most definitely not an information service and should not be regulated as such.
To me it looks like a utility. Just like my electricity service, my water service, and my gas service. The honest to god truth of this matter is that last mile internet service is a utility and has been since broadband arrived a decade or more ago.
Again, we can argue about whether it should be regulated (as electricity, water, and gas are), but we really cannot argue with a straight face that broadband internet access is an information service. It never was and it never will be.