An interesting few days for net neutrality

First, Sir Tim Berners Lee writes a guest post on Vice President Ansip’s blog on the importance of network neutrality for Europe:

When I designed the Web, I deliberately built it as a neutral, creative and collaborative space, building on the openness the Internet offered. My vision was that anyone, anywhere in the world could share knowledge and ideas without needing to buy a license or ask permission from myself or any CEO, government department or committee. This openness unleashed a tidal wave of innovation, and it is still powering new breakthroughs in science, commerce, culture and much more besides.

Then today the US FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposes reclassifying local infrastructure under Title II of the 1996 Telecoms Act (but importantly without many of the more onerous Title II requirements such as rate regulation and unbundling):

The internet wouldn’t have emerged as it did, for instance, if the FCC hadn’t mandated open access for network equipment in the late 1960s. Before then, AT&T prohibited anyone from attaching non-AT&T equipment to the network. The modems that enabled the internet were usable only because the FCC required the network to be open.

So for the telecoms geeks out there, the network neutrality debate is back with a vengeance.

For the antitrust geeks, I guess two questions from the above: (1) are the above statements about the value of openness true? (2) if so, does current competition law analysis take that into account? I don’t think either question is easy to answer.

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