Net neutrality numbers don't add up

A new study suggests regulating the Net will cost millions of jobs. A closer look reveals the study's main ingredient is manure, Cringely concludes

Have you heard the news? Passing Net neutrality rules will result in the loss of 340,000 jobs in the broadband industry and up to 1.5 million jobs overall by 2020. If you don't believe it, I have a fancy-schmancy report that says as much. Per IDG News' Grant Gross:

If the FCC adopts the net neutrality rules it is now considering, close to 1.5 million jobs across the U.S. economy could be put in jeopardy by 2020, and revenue growth in the broadband industry would slow by about one-sixth during that time frame, said the study, by Coleman Bazelon, a telecom economist with The Brattle Group.

Bazelon predicted that spending in the broadband industry would decrease by US$5 billion in 2011 if the FCC passes formal net neutrality rules, with the number growing in subsequent years.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Cringely laments the federal court's decision against the FCC in "Broadband monopolies 1, Net freedom 0" | Stay up to date on all Robert X. Cringely's observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

Who paid for this report? A telecom lobbying firm called Mobile Future, which sports a weird hodgepodge of member organizations, including Alligator Planet, Climate Cartoons, Goomzee, and the League of United Latin American Citizens. But the most recognizable name on the list is AT&T. Color me surprised.

You can tell the report is going to be a bit slanted when it declares U.S. broadband "a success story," parroting the same lines Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg put out a few weeks ago and conveniently ignoring multiple reports that conclude U.S. broadband is both slower on average than that of more than a dozen other developed nations and more expensive.

It gets worse. That 23-page report [PDF], filled with impressive-looking charts and dire projections, is based entirely on a single assumption: Regulating U.S. telecoms in the late 1990s and early 2000s hurt them to the tune of about 15 percent per quarter, relative to the cable companies. Thus, Bazelon's conclusion that broadband revenues would slow by one-sixth, slashing revenues and jobs by a proportionate amount.

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