Friday, September 15, 2006

Net Neutrality News

With any luck at all, the Communications bill that would kill net neutrality might die without final action in the Senate. Alaska Senator Ted "Series of Tubes" Stevens has changed his mind about whether his sweeping bill will get through the mindfield that he helped create.

Of course he's not the only wrong-headed, technology-impaired senator who is trying to run/ruin our lives. Not to mention Kevin Martin, the chairman of the FCC who addressed the Senate about this issue: (quoting from the cNet article) "Sen. Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, asked whether network providers like Verizon should be able to charge more for "higher requirements" like video from their customers if Google and other content providers have the right to charge their customers for prime placement on their pages."

Martin's reply: "I think so, and if we didn't allow them to, then they wouldn't be willing to offer those kinds of products."

Gee whiz Kevin (and Jim). Please consider this retort. The broadband providers have virtually no competition. In many places you have a choice of one provider, oops sorry, that's not really a choice now is it? However, nobody forces me to use Google. I have my choice of many different search engines and many different providers of online tools like spreadhseets, calendars, email, and the like. On what planet does it make sense to compare a monopoly service provider with a company in a competitive industry?

And finally, what have the broadband providers done with their near-monopoly positions? They have provided high-cost, low speed connections disguised/marketed as high-speed, with incredibly poor customer service. Yes, definitely, let's reward them for their efforts! NOT.

BTW, another reason that the bill should die is that it contains terrible legislation related to the "broadcast flag" (see also EFF) which will allow RIAA, the movie industry, and other media types to further restrict what a consumer can do with the music/video/content that they have PURCHASED! No thanks.

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