Nearly a year after the repeal of net neutrality took effect, the average internet speed in the United States for fixed broadband rose 28% and the country is now ranked No. 7 globally.
When the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal net neutrality in December 2017, average internet download speed was approximately 77 Mbps and the U.S. was ranked No. 12 globally in average speed, according to data from Ookla, which runs a popular online speed testing service. Since the repeal took effect on June 11, 2018, average internet download speeds have increased 28% from 93 Mbps to 120 Mbps.
“When I became FCC Chairman in January 2017, investment in our nation’s broadband networks had declined for two straight years,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement released last week. “So we turned the page on the failed policies of the past and charted a new course. We focused on reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens and cutting red tape that discourages broadband deployment. And we concentrated on updating our rules to match the modern communications marketplace … The latest evidence reaffirms that our policies are working … So in the time to come, we’ll continue on the same course — full speed ahead. That means getting rid of more unnecessary regulatory burdens and updating more outdated rules so that we can continue to connect more Americans with high-speed broadband and digital opportunity.”
Pai has said that turning over regulation to the Federal Trade Commission would make internet providers more accountable for antitrust practices and for behaving in ways that don’t benefit consumers. Critics have said that the repeal of net neutrality didn’t directly lead to the increase of speeds or wider availability and have pointed to instances of ISP behavior that would’ve violated net neutrality regulations, including Verizon’s widely criticized throttling of cellular data during the California wildfires in 2018 that inadvertently affected emergency responders. Verizon said that the throttling was not due to the repeal.
Pai criticized extreme predictions of what the internet would look like in a post-net neutrality America during a Senate committee hearing on June 12.
“When we made our decision, there were several predictions clearly made, including by some elected officials,” Pai said. “‘This was the end of the internet as we know it,’ ‘You will have to play $5 per tweet,’ ‘The internet will work one word at a time,’ ‘Our internet will look like Portugal’s,’ ironically a country that has net neutrality regulations. A year after our decision … the results were in. Internet speeds have been up, infrastructure investment is up, the internet remains free and open and all of these parades of horribles have been dismissed. The greatest threat to a free and open internet has been the unregulated Silicon Valley tech giants that do, in fact, today decide what you see and what you don’t. There’s no transparency, there’s no consumer protection.”
The Save The Internet Act of 2019 would effectively repeal the repeal of net neutrality passed the Democratic-led House in April but has not been heard in the Republican-held Senate.