In recent days, we at CFIF have marked the ignominious one-year anniversary of the Biden Administration…
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Drug Price Controls: On 9/13, Let's End the Indefensible 9-13 Small Molecule/Large Molecule Protection Disparity

In recent days, we at CFIF have marked the ignominious one-year anniversary of the Biden Administration's misnamed "Inflation Reduction Act" (IRA) by noting its particularly negative impact on pharmaceutical innovation and, in turn, the nation's health and wellbeing.

As acknowledged by the United States Senate Committee on Homeland Security  as well as groups like the American Cancer Society, Americans are already confronting alarming and unprecedented drug shortages in the wake of the IRA.

To mark today's date of September 13 - or 9/13 - it's appropriate to note a different but significant 9-13:  That refers to the indefensible distinction that the IRA makes between what are known as "small-molecule" and "large-molecule" drugs.

Specifically, the IRA imposes destructive price controls…[more]

September 13, 2023 • 03:24 PM

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New Report: Light-Touch Regulatory Policies Allowed U.S. Broadband Infrastructure to Flourish Amid Pandemic Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, December 16 2021
As a new report from Recon Analytics spells out in impressive detail, U.S. internet service providers ended up handling it splendidly.

It’s a familiar adage that airplanes taking off and landing safely don’t make headlines.  It’s only news when one doesn’t.  

Or, citing another adage, “If it bleeds, it leads.”  Where there’s no blood, few notice.  

For public policy purposes going forward, however, it’s important to highlight proverbial crashes that didn’t occur, and the policies that allowed us to avert catastrophe.  Particularly when catastrophe was expected or at least highly likely.  

As 2021 comes to a close, the outstanding performance and resiliency of U.S. broadband networks offers a perfect illustration.  

On March 16, 2020 a New York Times headline worried, “So We’re Working from Home.  Can the Internet Handle It?”  

With millions of people working and learning from home during the pandemic, internet networks are set to be strained to the hilt.  As millions of people across the United States shift to working and learning from home this week to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they will test internet networks with one of the biggest mass behavior changes that the nation has experienced.  That is set to strain the internet’s underlying infrastructure, with the burden likely to be particularly felt in two areas: the home networks that people have set up in their residences, and the home internet services from Comcast, Charter and Verizon that those home networks rely on…  And when many people are loaded onto a single Wi-Fi network at the same time to stream movies or to do video conferencing, that can cause congestion and slowness.

As a new report from Recon Analytics spells out in impressive detail, U.S. internet service providers ended up handling it splendidly.  

As the analysis recalls for context, by March 24, 2020, 14 states had already issued stay-at-home orders, which rose to 32 states by March 31, then to 44 by April 7.  Over that period, the number of Americans forced to work from home increased from 31% to 70%.  Additionally, 93% of U.S. households with children of school age shifted to remote learning, and 97% of college students moved to online study.  

Consequently, internet use surged upward to unanticipated degrees.  As illustrated by The New York Times concern, many feared that this sudden jolt in bandwidth use would crash data speeds, in turn bringing workplace and classroom productivity to a screeching halt.  Those fears were exacerbated by the fact that the form of internet use changed from its pre-pandemic norms, to much higher use of video conferencing, streaming video and other data-intensive functions.  

Instead of crashing, however, our U.S. internet service infrastructure performed spectacularly, and even improved against expectation:  

America’s broadband networks withstood the sudden shift and increase of demand remarkably well.  Wireless download speeds are twice as fast as they were before the pandemic.  Fixed download speeds are now up more than 30%.  While the surge in data initially had an insignificant effect on performance of fixed and mobile data speeds, over time the strong performance of those networks enabled Americans to use their data connections in the way they used it prior to the pandemic – but even more intensely.  

Not only did the U.S. internet service infrastructure exceed expectations, it outperformed counterparts in Europe, where internet service did suffer.  

And that’s where the important public policy lessons come into play.  

As the report highlights, the U.S. follows a more light-touch regulatory model than other developed nations that supposedly offer a more enlightened alternative.  As a result, investment in the U.S. far exceeds other developed nations per capita, which in turn improved performance:  

The United States represents approximately 29% of the population of the OECD countries but the percentage of telecommunications investment made by U.S. telecommunications providers increased from 38% in 2009 to 47% in 2018…  American broadband providers invest more than their peers [on a per capita basis].  American investment exceeded that of 36 out of the other 37 OECD members.  American operators spent twice as much per person as what is spent in the economies of other OECD countries.  The U.S. investment paradigm is founded on a free-market approach according to which providers can compete against each other where it makes economic sense, framed in a light touch regulatory system.  While traditionally fixed operators competed solely against fixed operators and wireless operators only competed against wireless operators, those days are in the past.  Cable, wireline, wireless, fixed wireless and satellite broadband providers are all competing against one another.  Without a consistent and predictable light touch regulatory regime, the type of investments that let much of the U.S. economy seamlessly switch from a largely at the office business model to a fully distributed work at home model would be difficult to imagine.  

All of this takes on additional resonance as we mark four years since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai repealed foolish and heavy-regulatory Obama Administration “Net Neutrality” rules, and returned us to the light-touch regulatory approach that had allowed the internet to flourish from the 1990s forward.  Today, the Biden Administration and many in Congress hope to reimpose those misguided and heavy-handed rules that caused private investment to decline for the first time ever outside an economic recession.  We mustn’t allow that.  

As the Recon Analytics report reconfirms, a light-touch regulatory approach allowed the U.S. internet infrastructure to handle the Covid disruption spectacularly well, and it offers the optimal public policy approach going forward.  

Notable Quote   
"The 2024 presidential election is over a year away, but the left's legal assault on common-sense election integrity measures has already begun.Last month, a district court in San Antonio ruled that Texas cannot enforce the provision of Senate Bill 1 which established a voter identification requirement for mail in voting in Texas. The next day, a district court in Atlanta ruled against Georgia Senate…[more]
— Chad Ennis, Vice President of Honest Elections Project
Liberty Poll   

In your opinion, how likely is a federal government shutdown at the end of September, based on budgetary and other disagreements in the fractured House of Representatives?