Network Neutrality: An American Saga

15 Pages Posted: 11 Sep 2012 Last revised: 21 Sep 2012

Date Written: September 10, 2012


The goal is to make the greatest issue in communications policy, Network Neutrality, comprehensible to the educated layperson. I explain how the issue arose and where it stands now, and give some historical perspective on how this country will resolve it.

My theses are that (1) both the proponents and the opponents of Network Neutrality have some good points; (2) some past versions of Network Neutrality, in other parts of the communications business, helped consumers and caused innovation; (3) other versions of Network Neutrality harmed consumers and suppressed innovation; and (4) what history teaches is that whether Network Neutrality should or will be imposed will depend not on the theoretical perfection of the ideologies of its proponents or opponents, but on the behavior of cable and telephone companies – in other words, on whose ideology best fits the facts of marketplace behavior. If the cable and telephone companies act responsibly towards their customers, they will not be under Network Neutrality. The companies largely control whether Network Neutrality is needed and will be imposed on them. Their fate is in their hands.

Keywords: network neutrality, communications law, communications policy

JEL Classification: K21, K23

Suggested Citation

Berresford, John W., Network Neutrality: An American Saga (September 10, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

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