TPI Responds to FCC Title II NPRM

TPI Responds to FCC Title II NPRM

WASHINGTON, DC (October 19, 2023) – Following the FCC’s decision to proceed with its NPRM on Title II, the Technology Policy Institute is issuing three responses:

  1. Comments by TPI President Scott Wallsten on why the evidence contradicts the FCC’s claims, accompanied by supporting data;
  2. Comments by TPI Senior Fellow Sarah Oh Lam on the FCC’s apparent rejection of the underlying tenets of competition; and
  3. Comments by ChatTPI, which constitute the world’s first fully AI-generated response to a government request for comments. This report highlights how a generative AI can synthesize a body of knowledge and provide useful information for policy.

Comments of Scott Wallsten

Following the FCC’s recent proposal to re-re-reclassify broadband under Title II, Scott Wallsten, President of the Technology Policy Institute, stresses broadband’s significance during COVID-19 but notes improvements in availability, adoption, and competition which all occurred without Title II.

“The FCC correctly acknowledges how the pandemic highlighted broadband’s importance, but draws the wrong conclusion from history and recent experience. Without Title II oversight we’ve seen improvements in availability, competition, and adoption, including among low-income households and people with disabilities, with prices rising more slowly than inflation. These positive developments don’t prove the absence of Title II is the cause, but they indicate its absence isn’t hindering progress.”

Additionally, the FCC believes Title II will give it extended authority to  do more for national security and public safety, but even with its current mandate, the FCC has yet to follow recommendations from the Government Accountability Office that it could already easily implement. 

Competition Improved without Title II

Reclassifying Broadband Under Title II Will Not Increase Competition” by Scott Wallsten 

Adoption increased without Title II

Speeds increased without Title II

Prices increased less than the CPI Without Title II

Adoption by people with disabilities increased without Title II

GAO has made recommendations on how the FCC could help improve public safety, none of which involve Title II, but the FCC has not followed them.

The GAO report recommends that… 

the FCC should improve emergency alerts through improved geo-targeting or alert message length. It has not yet done so. 

the FCC should improve emergency alerts through improved geo-targeting or alert message length. It has not yet done so.

Comments of Sarah Oh Lam

TPI Senior Fellow Sarah Oh Lam notes that the FCC appears to reject the market system and introduce, without any definition or explanation, a new designation of “fully effective competition.” These worrisome assertions appear in paragraph 130 of the FCC’s NPRM.

1. FCC rejects the central tenets of competition: The FCC appears to believe that it is problematic that an ISP “only accounts for the impacts of its decision on its own company…. [and therefore]… in setting its profit-maximizing prices, the ISP lowers service quality for all ISPs, but that harm does not feature in the ISP’s profit-maximizing calculation.” 

The FCC’s theory is that ISPs should consider its rivals and not compete to their fullest, because their actions will universally impact “all ISPs” and transmit harms throughout the economy. Moreover, the FCC worries that ISPs will not set socially optimal prices and “since ISPs have no means of coordinating their behavior, and doing so could be illegal, each will behave in this way with material negative cumulative effects. The result is a breaking of the virtuous cycle described in the 2010 Open Internet Order: not only will ISPs collectively be worse off, but so will the broader economy.”

Presumably, the FCC believes Title II would allow it to fix this “problem.” Even though the Open Internet FAQ explicitly says the NPRM does not include price regulation, paragraph 130 would be impossible to address without regulating prices.

2. FCC Introduces the Concept of “Fully Effective Competition”: The FCC uses vague and undefined concepts such as “fully effective competition” without defining what that means. This casual introduction of a new economic concept suggests the FCC’s reasoning is not rigorous.

Comments of ChatTPI

As an example of how generative AI will become useful for policy, TPI is releasing replies to the NPRM’s questions that were fully written by ChatTPI, TPI’s own generative AI.

Important Disclaimer:

This document contains responses generated by ChatTPI to specific questions in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Title II. While ChatTPI derives its responses from TPI’s research, they do not necessarily represent the positions or viewpoints of any individual at TPI. Instead, they are the AI’s interpretations and syntheses of the materials it has analyzed.

The sections below are the chatbot’s response to the query, “How would you respond to the argument that reclassifying broadband under Title II is necessary in order to …” The executive summary is ChatTPI’s response to the request to “generate an executive summary based on the following text” and pasting in its own answers.

We have edited only the citations to make them more human-friendly, but otherwise we have left the responses as-is, including most of ChatTPI’s grammatical mistakes.

The AI’s responses here are a bit redundant, not always well-written, and not written in a consistent style. Additionally, because ChatTPI is a tool to synthesize TPI’s work, it is trained on research only by TPI’s scholars, does not know other perspectives, and therefore does not present a balanced view. Like all AIs, it only knows its training data.

Nevertheless, this document shows how AI can help with policy by synthesizing a large body of literature to write coherent responses to questions asked by regulators and others.

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