Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School and the director of the Poliak Center for the First Amendment at the Columbia Journalism School, writing in The New Yorker, has penned one of the best takes on the likely implementation of network neutrality. He explains why he thinks most people believed that it would never be approved.
Here is an excerpt:
The theory of the wisdom of crowds suggests that the markets have noticed something: the broadband industry hates net neutrality, but its existence has always had a huge and unnoticed upside. Selling broadband is a great business: Moffet has pointed out that the margins are north of ninety-seven per cent. Stated simply, a strong net-neutrality rule locks in the status quo for the most profitable part of the cable industry’s business.
Looking to the future, there’s one last thing that everyone might be wrong about. The general assumption is that the new rules will be met with fierce and protracted litigation (perhaps decades of it, warn the greatest doomsdayers). I’ve said myself that there will be litigation, and it is true that, in our times, most serious regulation is immediately challenged in court, almost as a kind of corporate reflex. Verizon and A.T. & T. have both already threatened to sue. But maybe this prediction is wrong, too.
For one thing, given the jump in stock prices, filing a lawsuit will technically be suing to invalidate rules that seem to have created billions of dollars of shareholder value for the broadband providers. For another, suing the F.C.C. tends to annoy the agency, meaning that you might count out A.T. & T. and Comcast, both of whom have pending mergers before the commission. Sprint has already said that it doesn’t mind net-neutrality regulation, and it is hard to imagine a smaller company really wanting to bother. So it probably comes down to whether Verizon or a trade group like the National Cable & Telecommunications Association thinks that it is worth the time, money, and continued uncertainty inherent in trying to knock out the new rules.
A suit becomes less likely because any such challenge is likely to fail. Unlike in 2010, the F.C.C. has written an exceptionally well-defended rule that depends on its broadest grants of authority to regulate “communications by wire.” Predicting the outcome of an unfiled suit is hazardous business; but it is fair to say that knocking out the rules will be rather hard.