Terence Corcoran, gives a little history lesson on how “Net Neutrality” worked in the 20th century over at the Financial Post:
Our freeways and highways are working models of road neutrality. At any time, anywhere, drivers are free to stream onto highways, free of any of the blocking, throttling and paid prioritization that private road tolls might bring. The result of road neutrality is constant congestion, with drivers dependent on politicians to determine whether new roads are built as a public utility, with no regard to price and cost.
Postal neutrality dominated for centuries, until key parts of the business were liberated from neutrality by allowing competitors to travel the same routes to deliver parcels. Today, UPS and FedEx compete with government postal services on quality and price. Recently, UPS announced another break with postal-neutrality principles, saying it would impose a surcharge on U.S. packages shipped the week before Christmas. The objective, says UPS, is to end congestion by prompting shippers and consumers to postpone deliveries that are non-essential holiday items until after the Christmas rush.
Promoters of net neutrality might learn from the history of public utilities and the experience in de-neutralized sectors such as postal services. Under deregulation, telcos in competition with one another would have more incentive to innovate and supply the infrastructure for the promised technological miracles than they would under the centuries-old utility model. [We tried ‘neutrality’ before the net came along. It’s always terrible.]