Nagging Doubts About Net Neutrality

March 3, 2015

Several dealers have asked me for my take on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) vote last week to treat broadband Internet providers like utilities.

First, I’ll note that I’m not the most impartial observer. My employer, Cox Automotive, is owned by Cox Enterprises, which provides broadband services through its Cox Communications division. I’m not involved in the broadband business, but it’s important that dealers recognize the relationship.

Second, I’ll share that the FCC’s action seems a little bit like a solution looking for a problem. I may be a bit broadbandnaïve and uninformed on these matters, but I didn’t realize that there was anything fundamentally wrong with the ways broadband companies provide their services to consumers. I can certainly recognize the potential for problems, but I’m unaware of any that would justify the FCC’s action.

Third, I’m concerned about the FCC—or any government agency, for that matter—regulating Internet traffic. The specifics of the FCC’s regulation haven’t been published, which makes it difficult to predict future consequences. But I, like others, can’t help but question that such governmental oversight may well create unintended consequences that prove detrimental to both businesses and consumers.

As the FCC’s regulations become public, it’ll be important for everyone to pay close attention, and make their views known to elected officials. This will be especially true for dealers, for whom the Internet has become the primary pipeline today’s customers use to buy, sell and service their vehicles.