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Archive for the ‘Net Neutrality’ Category

Republicans Deadset on Making Net Neutrality Worse

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Just like perpetually infuriated comedian Lewis Black said, in the United States we have the party of no ideas and the party of bad ideas.

Marsha Blackburn (R, TN)

Marsha Blackburn (R, TN)

Republicans, no fans of Net Neutrality in the first place, have started working to get rid of it. Marsha Blackburn, representing Tennessee’s 7th district (which may or may not acutally have internet access), has proposed the Internet Freedom Act. The IFA makes the internet the jurisdiction of Congress because “Only Congress can address those challenges without compounding them. Until we do, the FCC and other federal bureaucracies should keep their hands off the ‘net.”

So bad ideas get worse.

I’m not sold on Net Neutrality, as evidenced by these posts and the fact that there will be mission creep, but I can tell you one way not to combat it: Don’t let Congress get it’s hands on it. I can promise you that much.

Written by Matt

January 7, 2011 at 5:32 pm

So Maybe Ed Whitacre Won’t Be Controlling Your Tubes

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According to the National Broadband Plan, the government foresees a future where we only have one high-speed ISP.

In the report, released last year, the FCC noted that cable companies are able to provide ever-faster internet and phone companies aren’t able to keep up due to outdated technology. This trend means that, eventually, there will only be one legitimate high-speed ISP in each municipality.

The fear is that eventually, everyone will have to use their cable providers for high speed internet, who, even by their own standards, are pretty much universally hated*. The phone companies will be out of the picture (well, except for Verizon and FIOS, I assume) because they just can’t keep up.

It’s an interesting insight into the rationale of the FCC: We need Net Neutrality to protect the ISPs from foisting their “managed services” on us (basically, no more Netflix, no more Hulu if we’re talking cable-based ISPs), which they will do once they achieve a “natural monopoly” and ISP competition goes the way of cable TV. Basically, we need Net Neutrality because the FCC screwed up in the first place.

The flip side to this is that people don’t hate their ISP they way they hate their cable provider – a statistic Net Neutrality For The Win noted in a study – and even the New York Times who usually walks in step with attempts at government regulation thinks competition is a better way to solve the problem**.

So maybe the old quote trotted out by every Net Neutrality supporter will finally go out of vogue since, evidently, it’s going to be the cable companies fucking us instead of the phone companies. Hey, it’s only been 5+ years.

*A little side note: Cable providers have been so historically awful at customer service that the FCC actually enacted guidelines in the early 90’s to try and improve customer service. Nice to see that worked out.

**Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the Op/Ed. I’ll keep looking, though. Keep in mind, it might be stuck behind a paywall.

Written by Matt

January 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

A Great Net Neutrality Primer

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I haven’t chimed in on Net Neutrality yet. I know it seems foolish of me not to, as I do fashion this blog as one about information. The thing is, I’d just rather not put them in writing, mostly because I’m not going to pretend I know enough about the debate and the history of FCC policy and regulation to expound what I feel are informed opinions. Even some of the best, like Slate’s Jack Shafer, who so entertainingly mocks the trend story, submits some this hilarious alternate universe where the American internet is essentially Minitel and Vancouver becomes today’s Silicon Valley, that gets holes poked in it in the comments.

Not that I don’t have views on the subject: I don’t like government intervention, and a lot of industries do better with out it (craft brewing comes to mind immediately) and Net Neutrality supporters seem to cite a quote from former AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre from 2005 that proves paid prioritization is imminent (in fairness, he also said AT&T wouldn’t do that). Plus, I feel like there’s a whole lot of disincentive for telecoms to interrupt the internet as we know it for fear of a whole lot of backlash. So needless to say, I’m not totally sold on it,  but I’ve also read things that nudge me away from that stance.

In an attempt to get myself educated, I came across this guide from cybertelecom.org, which links lays out both sides of the argument on a case-by-case basis. It’s fairly academic, so expect to spend some time with it. I’m certainly not done with it, but from what I can tell it’s a very good primer.

Written by Matt

December 23, 2010 at 6:26 pm