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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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...

AI anxiety: Do intelligent technological “demons” spell dawn or doom?

Is technology, and thus the economy, stagnating? Or is technology moving so fast that we need to slow it down, lest it devour us? It’s an intriguing, if dissonant, debate, highlighted once again last week, this time by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk. “With artificial intelligence,” Musk warned, “we’re summoning the demon.” It was a brief comment in response to an audience question at an MIT aerospace event, but Musk’s manner, which turned solemn when asked about AI, showed just how seriously smart people are taking the idea of an AI threat to humanity. “I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight,” Musk said, “maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.”

Will Apple Pay be the technology that finally disrupts the banking sector?

Before and after Apple’s big September event, the headlines heavily featured the larger iPhone 6s and the new Apple Watch. The more people thought about it, however, largest looming may have been the announcement of Apple Pay. But why? We’ve talked about mobile payments for years. Lots of start-ups and consortiums of big firms are working on it. Perhaps Apple will streamline the system and really, finally jumpstart the mobile pay movement. But is...