Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Friday, May 12, 2006

R.E.M. -- Losing My Neutrality?

Apparently net neutrality appeals to artists from Athens, Georgia. Add R.E.M. to the list of "lunatics" who support the idea that the Internet should remain open, non-discriminatory and content neutral. The band posted a message on their website asking fans to get behind net neutrality.

Even high-profile "content creators" see the value of ensuring that all content -- from unknown bloggers to multi-platinum rock bands -- should be accessible to consumers on an equal footing. Consumer choices of content should not be dictated or shaped by the companies who own the networks.

The latest industry FUD about net neutrality is here, an artful piece of propoganda funded by cable/telcos that attempts to convince people that net neutrality represents some new, heavy-handed government regulation of the Internet. In reality, net neutrality has been the status quo since Day 1 of the Internet. Nobody controls content. Consummers decide what they want to see on the Internet . . . and all of it loads equally fast. That's net neutrality in action.

For R.E.M., net neutrality should be Automatic for the People.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Lunatics Running the Net Neutrality Asylum?

If you listen to CEOs from the telcos/cable companies, that's who net neutrality advocates are -- believers in UFOs, Elvis sightings, unicorns and the Loch Ness Monster.

A good friend shared the following on net neutrality. It comes from the CableFax Daily (May 11, 2006), the cable industry newsletter (keep in mind this is the cable industry speaking here)...
Net Neutrality Nellies: Comcast VP for External Affairs, Joe Waz, proposed a “cooling-off period” for net neutrality. “Apparently Senator Commerce Chairman [Ted] Stevens [Republican - Alaska] feels the same way. Rather than shoot first and ask questions later, Sen. Stevens wants to get the facts,” Waz said [at a meeting this week].

Referencing AOL and Earthlink’s open access arguments of 1990s, Waz said: "Had open access rules become law, it would have upended the business model that made our broadband explosion possible . . . just as network neutrality could do today."

A "cooling off period" could work for US Internet Industry Association President/CEO David McClure, who described all network neutrality supporters as "intellectually, morally and technologically dishonest."

McClure’s quotable quotes were the brightest part of a ho-hum net neutrality panel. Our favorite was his description of the 3 groups supporting net neutrality legislation. First are the content companies, who are the “most honest” since they’re looking to get out of paying. The 2nd group is “Bell-bashing” attorneys and advocates. “For them, this is the last opportunity not to become irrelevant because we are marching steadfastly toward a deregulated telecom market.” And finally, there is the "Coalition of the Deranged" — those are the people that believe Elvis is still alive and in alien abductions.”
How do you argue with that?

I'm not a content company. I'm not a lawyer/advocate fighting AT&T. So, according to the cable industry, I must be . . . crazy.

Call me crazy to suggest that consumers might not want to pay for bundles of internet content chosen by cable companies. Maybe they would, but maybe not. And apparently only a deranged person would suggest that we consider whether internet infrastructure should be treated more like public infrastructure, given its increasing importance to our economy and society -- which means we must be prepared to pay for non-discrminatory access to content. Is it so crazy to say that I prefer not to have the Internet look like current pricing schemes for telephones and cable which are complicated and opaque? I don't want to spend endless hours comparing tiered pricing and weighing which websites I want at high speed and which I want at normal speed.

But wait . . . wasn't that Elvis who just walked in?