Unintended consequences are probably the worst thing about laws and regulations. It’s difficult to predict the reactions from both individuals and corporations to outwit a new rule. Patrick Knorr, EVP of Business Services and IP Technology for Wave Broadband, suggests that that one of the unintended, potential consequences of Title II regulation of broadband providers is that “content providers” may begin to charge fees for their content (some of the Disney properties already charge for operators for their broadband content) in a way that is similar to what has occurred with traditional, franchised cable television services.
He likens the current regulatory situation to the 1992 Cable Act. Knorr’s concern is that content fees for every broadband subscriber will drive up the price of broadband. This is somewhat counterintuitive, as it is typically argued that the monopoly, last mile provider would impose fees on the content provider for preferential treatment or some other “discriminatory” practice. In the case of the small operator, the leverage is with the larger content provider. And, as Knorr points out, the very definition of “content provider” is in flux, as search engines, email services, apps and social media are all content in this brave new, regulated broadband world.
[On April 7th, 2015, “The American Cable Association called on the Federal Communications Commission to use Section 706 along with other provisions in the Communications Act to combat surging programming costs, which are inhibiting broadband investment that would expand competitive choice and initiate new service].
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