Net Neutrality: A View from Sicily

The FCC has decided to regulate the Internet as something closer to a public utility, or the federal highway system, than a cable television service.   Critics of the FCC decision--which include, of course, all of the major Internet service providers and their lobbyists--say that this will spell doom for the Internet.  There will be less innovation, higher prices, reduced competition, general bad news for the consumer.

When I hear these dire warnings, I think about my Internet and wireless experience in Italy, where telecommunications is distinctly more regulated than in the US.

House flowers Seven Internet Providers...

At my isolated stone farmhouse in the midst of Sicilian cow country, I receive signals from three different cellular companies (all of whom offer high-speed Internet service), plus a choice of two high-speed DSL providers (if I ever get around to putting in a phone line), plus two operators of a sophisticated wireless technology called WiMAX (never adopted by the big ISPs in the United States).

That’s a lot of choices, in middle of the countryside, on a Mediterranean island that is hardly the technology center of Europe.  And all those services are cheaper than what one would pay in the United States.  So if that’s what a bit more government regulation produces, then I say: bring it on.