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Monday, April 10, 2006

Net Neutrality: A Voice to be Heard

The former head of the Federal Communications Commission in the U.S., Reed Hundt, has something to say about "net neutrality." He is clear and to the point, and it's worth hearing his own words:
The purpose of competition is to create a bottleneck and extract rents... It should come as no surprise that the battle within the telephone industry is one where the proprietors assert a property interest in the network, they wish to create a private Internet, they wish to sell access and bundle on top of it content and conduit...

Access builders are not the proprietors of the Web, or the creators of the Web. They are just creators of pathways.

The debate we ought to have is this. From the perspective of the right national goal, do we want low cost, very robust high speed access to this public property or a very expensive limited toll booth?

Access builders say it’s private property, and they can charge high prices to the public park of the Internet. And maybe I should make it less appealing to participate in the public commons and more appealing to particiapte in the private commons I will create. It’s a less robust version of public property and more robust version of private property...

The rules and process [from the 1990s] were meant to empower users, to create a user-centric network where start-ups were subsidized by things like reciprical compensation, and the Internet was placed under the jurisdiction of common carriers...

The open net created by regulation and adjudicatory decisions was a revolution in society and a huge contributor to economic growth and rising wages. We have things now going in the other direction...

How would we like it if China had a non-neutral network? How would we enjoy it if China Telecom were to decide a highly discrimiantory approach was the right paradigm and American firms were not to get equal access, in China or other places under its influence?

[The U.S. is] the only country in the world that doesn’t see broadband as not being everywhere for everyone... We’re not committed to creating a high and rising standard of living with the single most important tool available, the Web. Everyone should have access... The protocols need to be open. We need open protocols. All networks should be able to connect at almost no price.
The full text of his speech (It's not long) can be found here, courtesy of Dana Blankenhorn.

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