Net neutrality a net loss for industry?

John Cerasuolo, president and CEO of ADS Security, discusses net neutrality in the security industry
Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Unless you have been living under a rock you have probably heard the debate over net neutrality. For all the talk there is very little understanding of how dangerous this obscure sounding policy would be to our economy.

While our lobbyists seem to be focusing their efforts on adding language they view as favorable to our industry, our efforts instead should be to stop this regulation in its tracks.  While many will misleadingly try to convince you this is an effort to promote an “open Web,” that is far from the truth.

Net neutrality is a pleasant-sounding name for the latest power grab by our ever-expanding federal government. In this case it is the Federal Communications Commission, with no authorization from Congress, that is attempting to assert jurisdiction over the Internet. Do we really want the FCC regulating the very industry that has been the font of innovation and progress in our economy for the past two decades?

Imagine how the Internet might have progressed if the FCC was put in charge back in the ’90s. Likely we would still be dealing with 56k modems and only dreaming about the ever-expanding services we enjoy today.

If you are concerned about the growth of our federal government and complain about the tentacles of the army of bureaucrats you must contend with to run a successful business, you must ask yourself if you really want the FCC to become the regulator of our free and open Internet.

Think about it, do you really think the FCC will do a better job of regulating our way to an open Web. Or do you have more confidence in the power of a free market?

Don’t be confused by all the fancy language, this is a power grab plain and simple—all in the name of the government solving a problem that doesn’t exist. 

If you like the way Amtrak and the U.S. Postal Service work and want the same guys running the Internet, then by all means jump on the net neutrality bandwagon.

If instead you want capitalists, innovators and business executives to control the Internet, you should let your congressional representative know that it is time to reassert their authority and smack down the FCC.


We all understand the apprehension to regulation.  What I don't understand is how this harms the security industry in general.  Your article does not articulate risks to the security business but just generalizes big, bad, government is bad.  When considering the fact that the big providers such as Comcast, TWC, etc are all going into the home security business, their ability to enhance their proprietary services and arbitrarily limiting a competitor like and ADT unless ADT choose to pay the TELCO's through peering agreements would increase costs for the consumer and reduce competition.  Net Neutrality is a friend of the security industry.

Thank you for your comment and you are correct that I did not articulate specific risks to the security industry.  The case I attempted to make is that expanding government controls, beyond the proper role of government, is bad for us as citizens, regardless of the interests of our industry.  While I think Net Neutrality regulation is detrimental to our industry, I would argue that even if you think it serves your narrow interests the broader concern is that if we consent to this exercise of government power we must be prepared for the same power to be exercised in cases where you might agree it would be damaging to security companies.  

Take the case of a regulation that mandates all homeowners to purchase monitored security systems for their home.  Would you support that regulation?  One could argue that it would serve the interests of our industry by dramatically expanding our customer base and increasing our revenues.  Of course a government with the power to mandate the purchase of our services also has the power to dictate our pricing.  If the government then capped the price of these services at $5/month you would properly object.  Absent a principle of free and open competition we are left with competing interest groups lobbying for the government to exercise it limitess power as they desire.  This is a prescription for the end of free markets.  The proper stance for rights respecting Americans is to resist these government power grabs regardless of the short term impact on our businesses.




The Alarm Industry’s Comments on the Net Neutrality Discussion

Contact Bill Signer at [email protected] or at (202) 515-2345 with questions.

 The Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) advocates on behalf of the burglar and fire alarm industry. It is comprised of the Central Station Alarm Association (AICC), Electronic Security Association (ESA), and the Security Industry Association (SIA), which includes major US manufacturing companies and associated industry members. Together, they represent the installers, monitors, and manufacturers of alarm equipment.

 The alarm industry protects the life, safety and property of some 30 million homes and businesses. We are the largest providers of Medical Emergency Response Systems that protect seniors. Our ability to respond promptly to a fire or break in can mean the difference between the life and death and/or whether a property is destroyed by fire.

 We are an integral part of the public safety network, and play a key role in emergency response during a national emergency such as 9/11, hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes. We work closely with the police, fire, and emergency medical responders to ensure prompt dispatch of emergency personnel. We are critical to ensuring that emergency personnel are not erroneously dispatched.

 The alarm industry is a highly competitive business that includes both large and small businesses that have no problem competing on a level playing field. Historically, we have used traditional landline services and have millions of customers who are dependent upon local exchange carriers. The industry has joined the transition to broadband and wireless services for alarm and video monitoring, and is manufacturing and installing equipment that is compatible with those services.

 We commend the Committee’s Net Neutrality draft for barring anticompetitive activities, but we are concerned that by the time the FCC resolves a complaint, our customers’ lives and property will be placed at risk and many of the small businesses in our industry will be driven out of business.

 Our primary concern is that broadband and wireless network providers are increasingly offering services that compete with us in providing home and business security services. Without some protection for smaller players, these network providers will have an incentive to favor their own security services and “throttle” or “block” our emergency signals to gain a competitive advantage.

 Recognizing the inherent conflict of interest present when a common carrier offers the same services as its customers, Congress in 1996, included Section 275 (b), (c), and (d) in their rewrite of the Communications Act. Section 275 (b), (c), and (d) provides a specific non-discrimination requirement, as well as an expedited hearing process for the alarm industry. We urge the Committee to include Section 275 (b)’s protections in your Net Neutrality bill.

 We urge that Section 275 be modernized to account for advances in technology, both since the passage of the ’96 Act and in years to come. Telecommunications is a rapidly-evolving space, and we want to ensure that protections for fair competition can keep pace.