By on December 15, 2017

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

You’ve probably heard all the brouhaha lately about “net neutrality” and its recent demise at the hands of Ajit Pai and the FCC. In my opinion, it’s a more complex issue than the multi-million-dollar avalanche of spam support suggests. (You can read more of that opinion here, if you like.) But it does raise some very interesting questions regarding monopolies, infrastructure investment, disruption, and opportunity costs. Some of those questions might be worth considering in the auto-industry context.

The proponents of Net Neutrality believe that your Internet Service Provider should be treated like a public utility or a public-supported railroad. But there’s a flaw in that argument: in most cases, the infrastructure owned by your ISP was built with private funds for private ends. Should that infrastructure be regulated like a utility even though it didn’t start that way?

Let’s expand this heretical line of thinking to something highly applicable to the car biz: Tesla and its dealership problem.

(Read More…)

By on November 24, 2017

You’ve no doubt heard about net neutrality over the last few years. But, in case you haven’t, net neutrality is the principle that forces Internet service providers to treat all data on the Internet equally. It forbids them from discriminating on subject matter or charging different fees based upon the user, site content, website, platform, application, or method of delivery. Essentially, it makes the internet into a tap where you pay one flat fee for access to all content.

That could soon change. On Tuesday, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced plans to repeal the landmark neutrality order from 2015. FCC head Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, said last year that he believed net neutrality’s “days were numbered.”

Pai has been criticized for being overly supportive of telecom companies. But a few automakers support his cause, as some of the FCC’s regulations have been at odds with autonomous car development.  (Read More…)

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