Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson

Bret Swanson is a visiting fellow at AEI's Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy and president of Entropy Economics LLC, a strategic research firm specializing in technology, innovation, and the global economy. He advises investors and technology companies, focusing on the Internet ecosystem and the broadband networks and applications that drive it. Swanson is also a scholar at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation, where, since 2005, his research has centered on economic growth and policies that encourage it. For eight years Swanson advised technology investors as executive editor of the Gilder Technology Report and later was a senior fellow at the Progress & Freedom Foundation, where he directed the Center for Global Innovation. Swanson began his career as an aide to former senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and was then an economic analyst for former representative Jack Kemp (R-NY) at Empower America.
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Broadband facts: GON with the wind

Yesterday, President Obama visited Cedar Falls, Iowa, to promote government-run broadband networks. On Tuesday, he gave a preview of the speech from the Oval Office. We need to help cities and towns build their own networks, he said, because the US has fallen behind the rest of the world. He pointed to a chart on his iPad, which showed many big US cities trailing Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Seoul in broadband speeds. Amazingly, however, some small US towns with government-owned broadband networks matched these world leaders with their taxpayer-funded deployment of gigabit broadband. I wish I could find a more polite way to say this, but the President’s chart is utter nonsense.
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Zero stars for zero understanding of consumer-friendly ‘zero-rating’

Less data at higher prices. Fewer people online and less experimentation in new digital business models. This would be the result of prohibiting digital content firms from subsidizing the data plans of Internet users, especially entry level and low-income consumers. This suggested prohibition is the latest ideological indulgence of the law professors who think it’s a good idea to start regulating the freest, and most successful, realm in the American economy — the Internet.


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Exabyte evidence delivers broadband verdict for US

Many of our technology policy debates turn on the question of US broadband coverage and quality. Well, I looked at the exabyte evidence – actual traffic flowing over real networks to real consumers – and contrary to the conventional narrative of the last decade, it tells us American broadband is flourishing. I recently published a paper on this finding, entitled “Internet traffic as a basic measure of broadband health.” Included below is a graphic illustrating the finding I mentioned above. Before elaborating on this paper, however, let me recount a series of important developments in the net neutrality saga. For those not following every twist and turn of the debate over the last two weeks – and who could blame you? – we may have seen a turning of the tide, away from mushy narrative and toward rigorous substance.
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This web boom must end!

In his Monday endorsement of public utility regulation of the Internet, President Obama said we need new rules to make sure ISPs don’t “limit your access to a website.” We need to overturn two decades of existing policy and replace it with the old telephone laws, the President argued, so that “companies can’t decide which online stores you should shop at or which streaming services you can use.” Isn’t it possible, however, that the bounty of content and commerce we enjoy on the Internet today is a direct result of not treating it like a government utility? In 2001, as former FCC Chief Economist Tom Hazlett just reminded us, Larry Lessig, an early advocate of more regulation, said that if we didn’t impose open access rules, the Internet would die. When open access, or unbundling, a cousin of today’s Title II proposal, was dropped in favor of a more hands-off approach, Lessig lamented that “the Internet revolution has ended just as surprisingly as it began.” What does the evidence since then tell us?
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What caused the web slow-down? Not Comcast, TWC, or Verizon

Last week, M-Lab, a group that monitors select Internet network links, issued a report claiming interconnection disputes caused significant declines in consumer broadband speeds in 2013 and 2014.

This was not news. Everyone knew the disputes between Netflix and Comcast/Verizon/AT&T and others affected consumer speeds. I wrote about the controversy here, here, and here, and my “How the Net Works” report offered broader context.

The M-Lab study, “ISP Interconnection and Its...