Rep. Eric Massa of New York today introduced a bill designed to put a stop to metered billing plans at large ISPs. The gist of it is that any ISP with more than 2 million customers must get FTC approval before doing any kind of consumption-based billing. Certainly companies like Time Warner and AT&T have gotten out of control with their miserly caps, but this is putting effort into the wrong end of the problem.
This proposal is just more of the same: highly restrictive regulation for the incumbents that gets constantly gamed and does nothing to promote better service provider choices. Given that the status quo of telecommunications regulation hasn’t ended up working so well, why on earth would we even entertain this idea? Lunacy is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
We should instead be focusing on how to increase competitive choices in the marketplace so that consumers have the option to pick their service provider. I’m confident that the only reason any service provider can get away with ridiculously low caps is because consumers can’t flee to another service. Once there’s some more competitive pressure, we’ll see those prices drop like a rock. In fact, markets with 4 service providers have prices that average about 25% less than markets with just two providers.
Let’s make sure our Congresscritters start focusing on the right part of the story. Competition is good. Regulation? Not so much.