Today’s editorial in the San Jose Mercury News in favor of Internet regulation is a real belly-buster:
Network neutrality isn’t new. Its basic tenets — that all users can access all legal content on the Internet and that all content providers are treated the same on the network — have been in effect since the birth of the Internet through regulations governing the old telephone network. But a series of court decisions and a vote of the Federal Communications Commission last year have voided those rules. And that has opened the door for phone and cable companies, which control Internet access, to change the rules of the game.
Bzzztttt – wrong. Cable Internet access has never been covered by common carrier laws, only dial-up and DSL have. And who provides the better service? Lawmakers freed DSL of its disadvantage against cable a year ago. The Internet itself, the backbone network, has never, ever been covered by common carrier regulations, and it’s this very thing that the search and software monopolies seek to change.
Consider the nascent world of Internet video, which promises to be a free-for-all of ingenuity and creativity. With enough bandwidth, CNN, a public access channel or an amateur video producer could put up content for the entire Internet to enjoy. Scores of innovative start-ups are coming up with business models to exploit that creativity, by organizing the new content, making it searchable and delivering it effectively to millions of users.
This stands reality on its head again. Real-time video isn’t practical over Vint Cerf’s Internet because it was engineered for e-mail and downloads. The Internet needs to grow the ability to deliver multi-media streams with very low delay to support the next generation of applications. Net neutrality criminalizes this practice, and along with it most of the advances that have been made in network engineering since the Internet was turned on in 1983.
Outside the Bay Area, few lawmakers seem to understand that by not enacting network neutrality legislation, they’d be subverting the basic principles that have made the Internet into such a powerful force for economic growth. Perhaps, it’s because they’ve been worn down by armies of lobbyists from the telephone and cable industries.
What Bay Area lawmaker understands how the Internet works, the one who gave us the V-Chip or the ones who line their campaign coffers with contributions from the companies that gave us the Internet Bubble? Our politicians are like politicians everywhere, captives to a group of interests who have positions on issues the lawmakers and their staffs scarcely understand. The legislation that opens up rights of way for fiber to the home is sensible, practical, and good for America as a whole and the high tech community in particular.
Network neutrality would be nothing short of a disaster for all of us who create or use networks.