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Carroll School of Management

Net Neutrality

Audience Member: You spoke enthusiastically about Ed Markey’s early role in telecommunications. I wonder to what extent you share now his enthusiasm for the concept of Net neutrality?

White: Well, Senator Markey—I guess I went up in his standing when he found out I was not only a BC grad, but a commuter—and they don’t have those anymore, so take a few to know.

But, you know, unfortunately, I think this is a very complicated subject that has been kind of played out in the media in a pretty superficial way. No one believes in blocking Web sites that I know of in the industry. No one believes in throttling. And everyone believes in transparency.

I think the big debate is really over if you’re going to have to spend money for the pipes to carry video. And by the way, 50% of the usage of the average Internet company in peak hour are two companies—YouTube—Google—and Netflix. And who’s going to pay for it?

And is the consumer going to pay for it? Or are the broadband providers plus a little bit of money from the Netflixes of the world going to pay for it? And that’s the big question. It’s a complicated topic. I would tell you the legalisms around it are incredibly complicated.

I personally don’t think using regulations that were designed for railroads and the phone system in the 1800s and 1930s is a particularly smart way to go. But we’ll have to see. And I think it’s an important public policy debate. And I’m hopeful that the FCC will come to a sensible decision that won’t chill the need to continue to invest in higher speeds and more fiber to have more broadband in this country.