Interesting video on the Threat to Net Neutrality.
Well done, but I’m not crazy about bills that legislate something that isn’t well-enough defined or understood. By which I mean both the Net and Neutrality.
What’s meant by “lawful”? Or “broadband”? I suspect the language in this bill will be as antique in five years as the languge of the 1934 act is today. And if this new bill passes, the untintended legacies of both will still be in force.
The framing bothers me too. It is all inside what Bob Frankston calls The Regulatorium. I’d rather see the Net defined and understood outside of that.
This is not to say I don’t think the Net is threatened. It is. I just think its biggest enemy is lack of imagination, not lack of regulation. And by that I mean lack of imagination by both the carriers and their opponents.
The carriers have trouble imagining being in any businesses other than the “triple play” or “quad play” they’re offering now, or to imagine there are any benefits to incumbency other than improvements on the customary forms of coersion.
The pro-neutrality folks have trouble imagining any case to make other than one that involves more lawmaking and regulatory relief.
Both are arguing inside the Regulatorium.
By policy and temperment Libertarians and dynamists like to think and work outside the Regulatoriium. So I’m wondering where creative ones might want to go with this thing. Adam Thierer’s 2004 Cato Institute policy analysis on Net Neutrality makes some important points, especially about unintended consequences of legislation, but it’s framed entirely within The Regulatorium, and the belief that the Net is (in Bob Frankston’s words) a “thing” we “consume”. And the somewhat Libertarian Wall Street Journal, now more than ever the Church Bulletin of the Republican Party, still sees “The Market” (at least where the Net is concerned) as “Your Choice of Lock-In”.
I’d rather look at the Net as the best marketplace the world has ever known. Nothing is more wide open and supportive for business, as well as culture. Is the best way to grow that marketplace to have it reduced to a crippled “service” offered as gravy on top of TV and telephony? Or to oppose that with legislation?
I think the Net will grow best if lots of players enter its marketplace with new value-adds — including the carriers themselves, leveraging advantages to incumency other than their position to charge monopoly rents.
I think there is lots of opportunity for individuals and small businesses to take the lead by connecting to each other any way they can, with or without carrier help.
Think about all the small businesses that could be liberated to do inventive new stuff if the carriers didn’t overcharge “business” customers (a legacy of Ma Bell that hasn’t gone away, and needs to). Think about how many generic (and generative) servers, services and data storage facilities could be installed in old switching plants and cable head-ends, operated by the carriers themselves or in partnership with the likes of Amazon, Google or Rackspace — taking advantage of both existing real estate and low latency connections to customers. Think about what will happen when the last mile becomes the first one — when consumers not only become producers, but when electricians, small contractors and homeowners can start deploying their own infrastructure from the edge inward. For a peek at how that will start to work and look, check out some of the pictures here.
My point is that we need other voices here, other ideas, new arguments. Fighting threats is good. Pursuing opportunities is better.