Speed Reads

Net neutrality

The FCC chairman thinks your internet is too slow and too expensive

On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said what maybe should be obvious to every American with an internet connection: Broadband internet in the U.S. is too slow and hampered by a lack of competition. More than half of U.S. consumers have only one choice for high-speed internet (more than 25 Mbps), he said at tech incubator 1776, so "there is simply no competitive choice for most Americans."

Wheeler's acknowledgment about a lack of competition may seem mundane, but it's "a fairly radical statement at the FCC," says Amy Schatz at Re/Code. And unlike most Americans, Wheeler can do something about it. He didn't propose any competition-boosting ideas on Thursday, but there is one thing he can do in the short term to at least not decrease competition: Block Comcast's purchase of No. 2 rival Time Warner Cable. The FCC is also considering whether to try to enforce popular net neutrality rules or open up special channels for paying internet services.

Wheeler didn't seem too keen on new rules, saying that "as must be clear by now, incentivizing competition should precede regulation." But his speech was still welcomed by net neutrality advocates. "Looking across the broadband landscape, we can only conclude that, while competition has driven broadband deployment, it has not yet done so in a way that necessarily provides competitive choices for most Americans," Wheeler said. It will be interesting to see what he plans to do about it.