Wednesday, July 25, 2007


What I told Senator Durbin, Part II

See all the comments at OpenLeft!

To get a neutral net, we need structural separation!
Senator Durbin,

I agree with you that Net Neutrality is essential to democracy and a meritocratic marketplace in applications and services, but I am concerned that if Congress passes a law that simply says, "Telcos must play nice and offer non-discriminatory Internet access," that the telcos will completely eviscerate this law in a few short years.

In the past, the Bells said they wanted competition, but they gutted it. Now they say they will honor a (voluntary) commitment not to "block, impair or degrade any content application or service," but, they say, we don't need a network neutrality law to make them behave. Yeah, right.

The Bells stand to make billions if they do get to put toll gates between us and our political discourse, us and our friends, us and our purchases, us and our travel plans, us and our medical information, so it is no wonder they don't want a law.

A neutral Internet is fundamental to our future as a nation, to our economy, to our freedom, but I do not believe that a Network Neutrality law will ensure a neutral Internet. We have seen the Bells fight persistently, for years and years, to eviscerate laws that impede their legacy business. They will do it again with a network neutrality law, for certain. {aside: Do you know anybody who has found how to get the $10/mo DSL that ATT committed to offer as a merger condition last December? Neither do I!}

A law mandating Network Neutrality is, to the Bells, a law against their way of doing business. So, at minimum, it must have teeth, billions in fines for violators and long jail sentences for their executives. A more focussed law would remove the inherent conflict by making it illegal for the Bells (or any large provider of Internet access) to have any financial interest in what it carries. This is called Structural Separation.

The 1996 Act's unbundling did not work because of how the Bells work, and a Net Neutrality law that merely mandates good behavior will get the same result. I believe we must proceed to the next level and mandate that the Bells either divest of Internet access businesses or divest of all interests in what is accessed.

David I

Technorati Tags: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?