[internetworkers] FW: Why Are Some Civil Rights Groups & Leaders On the Wrong Side of Net Neutrality?
matt.drew at gmail.com
Thu Feb 4 09:09:20 EST 2010
> FCC under future administrations given its recent history, but at
> least in principle the FCC has my interests at heart, whereas
> corporations like TWC are contractually obligated to care about their
> shareholders first. There are structural reasons to prefer the FCC,
> especially now.
Why would the FCC ever have your interests at heart? They are beset
by well-paid lobbyists from the very companies you describe. Indeed,
our entire system of last-mile communications has a long history of
government-granted monopolies and controls that have stifled
competition and artificially maintained high prices.
> I'll grant that in some ways federal level and state level are very
> different animals. It's much more within our power to affect decisions
> in Raleigh vs. decisions in Washington, and in my case decisions in
> Carrboro vs. decisions in Raleigh. When TWC is making huge profits
> while raising rates, you can bet I'm going to talk to my
> representatives about it. When TWC tries to squeeze through
> legislation that would prevent other municipalities from following
> Wilson's lead, you can bet I'm going to talk to my representatives
> about it.
You talk to your representatives about Time Warner's prices? Why is
that? One must note that in both of those instances, it is
government's protection of TWC's business model that is the problem,
which is why it is addressed at the government level. Time Warner
Cable has a de-facto almost-monopoly on cable service that is enforced
by a patchwork of local, state, and federal rules that make
competition extremely difficult. Recently they tried to increase that
control, but have been stopped for now.
There's lots of room for involved citizens, but it's not to tell
companies what they can and can't do with their own networks and bury
our internet under a blizzard of "fairness" regulations. Instead, it
should be to break down the protections those companies have
constructed for themselves at the various government levels. That
would allow cities like Wilson to build their own networks, if their
voters decide that's a good idea, and also open the door for
competition. It's been shown repeatedly that in areas where TWC must
compete, prices go down and service goes up - which is exactly what
happened in Wilson. If we want fast, cheap internet with neutrality,
it should already be clear that the best way to accomplish that is to
remove the reasons you go to your representatives instead of moving
your business to a competitor.
> You can fight about what "Net Neutrality" means and what regulation is
> appropriate till the cows come home, but please don't pretend that we
> live in a system with no or little regulation and that THAT is what
> makes our current system great.
On the contrary - it's quite clear that we live in a system with very
high amounts of regulation, and that that regulatory capture of the
system by a few large players is greatly holding us back -
particularly compared to other countries, where 100MB connections are
now widely and cheaply available in some places. It used to be worse
fifty years ago, and indeed it was the loosening of those regulations
and the growth of the modern telecom industry that permitted and aided
the growth of the Internet. Imagine trying to talk the AT&T of the
1950's into building up the internet!
> What makes our current system great is
> that for $20/month I can have pretty excellent hosting that can reach
> anybody in the world up to a certain number of concurrent users, and
> with free or cheap tools I can publish text, video, and more on that
> platform. The cost of publication is suddenly within reach for
> practically everyone *** who can get a reliable Internet connection
> ***. We need to (a) make sure that continues to be the case, and (b)
> expand the set of people who have reliable access to that network.
> Let's have a sensible conversation about how we can accomplish that.
The examples you give are perfect examples of why mostly leaving the
FCC out of things has been extremely beneficial to all of us. Hosting
providers are in a highly competitive business with few rules, mostly
focused around preventing outright fraud and theft. Since customers
can simply move their entire operation in a few hours, hosting
providers are constantly driven to provide better service at lower
cost. This has driven down prices to the point where virtually anyone
can set up and publish on the internet - for free, in cases such as
blogspot.com and wordpress.com. The free and cheap tools are provided
by programmers all over the world acting in concert, using the
internet to collaborate in ways that simply could not be imagined
fifty years ago - all with very little regulation or protection. Most
of the internet runs on their code and tools in one form or another.
The system has evolved into one of the most free and most open systems
ever created with very little regulation. The only major area where
there is intrusion and problems is the area where regulatory capture
has created government-enforced monopolies and abusive systems - the
last mile telecommunications providers. And even there, customer
lash-back has corrected the few instances where internet providers
tried to throttle or control their customer's traffic.
One way we *know* leads to openness, low prices, and expanding service
that actively works against anti-customer controls. The other way we
*know* leads to abusive corporations that jack up prices and use
government rules to stifle and crush competition.
We can already see the kinds of forces that are being brought to bear
on Net Neutrality legislation. Already, loopholes are being carved
out and exceptions made in back-room deals. We don't need more of
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