Richard Bennett is a visiting fellow in the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy, where he studies and specializes in public policies affecting networks, network regulation, and innovation. In particular, he focuses on the challenges and opportunities brought about by the Internet and mobile communication.
Before working in the policy realm, Bennett had a 30-year career in technology, during which he became a coinventor of Wi-Fi and the modern Ethernet architecture. He holds four patents and has led networking standards activities, founded technology companies, and engaged in networking research and development in leading applied research labs and Silicon Valley technology firms. He has also testified before Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.
Bennett has a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Texas, where he also did postgraduate work in computer science, logic, and electrical engineering.
Adviser, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, 2011–present
Editor, High Tech Forum, 2010–present
Expert Witness, 2000–present
Consultant, Network Technology and Policy, 1989–present
Senior Research Fellow/Independent Consultant, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, 2009–13
Principal Engineer, Actiontec Electronics, 2007–09
Principal Engineer, Trapeze Networks, 2005–07
Independent Consultant, Sharp Labs of America, 2003–05
The internet champions “permissionless innovation,” the ability to develop new services without tedious negotiation and approval. As the FCC makes its third attempt to develop a fair, coherent, and lawful regulatory policy for the internet, it can either apply this principle or it can adopt Title II — a contrary rule that once limited the pace of innovation in the historic telephone network.
While the Federal Communications Commission would seem to be plenty busy carrying out its statutory responsibilities with respect to spectrum and mergers, it has chosen to become embroiled in an extra-curricular affair of its own making, the "net neutrality" controversy. This kerfuffle dates back to philosophical meditations on regulation and innovation before the turn of the current century.
The FCC’s net neutrality rules are based on the false premise that American broadband services are sub-standard compared to those in other countries. In fact, the market is meeting consumer needs and outperforming every comparable market in the world.
American citizens are far ahead of government agencies and holdout populations such as the elderly in transitioning to new networking technologies. The FCC should revise its Internet Protocol Technology Transitions Order to, among other things, accelerate the adoption of IP technologies in the realms of public safety, defense, and aviation.
When the D.C. circuit court struck down the Federal Communications Commission's quixotic "net neutrality" rules on Jan. 14, the court left the agency with a way forward despite two straight court losses. The court ruled that one way the agency could regulate the Internet would be to simply reclassify it as a "common carrier," no different from 19th-century telephone networks.
Technology policy combines four complex disciplines: law, economics, engineering, and policy analysis. Very few people have comprehensive backgrounds in all four fields, so they tend to rely on the judgments of people with stronger grounding. But policy advocates often misstate facts in their own areas of expertise, either intentionally or as a result of subconscious bias.