TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Net Neutrality as the Big Print Media Defines it

Net Neutrality as the Big Print Media Defines it

Various writers (
Wed, 14 Jun 2006 14:54:48 -0500

Inside The Beltway Newspapers Lying About Net Neutrality? What A
Surprise from the inside-the-beltway-logic dept

Two separate editorials from DC newspapers both oppose net neutrality
efforts -- and yet, both seem to be filled with outright lies or
misleading half-truths. As we've said repeatedly, the real issue with
net neutrality is that there isn't enough competition in the broadband
space. If there were real competition, network neutrality wouldn't
even be on the table for discussion.

The Washington Post tries to get by this point by claiming that there
is real competition in the broadband space, stating that 60% of all
zip codes have four or more choices. Of course, reading that language,
you can tell immediately that it's coming from the FCC's discredited
broadband penetration numbers. The FCC counts on a per zip code basis
-- so if a broadband provider offers broadband to a single house in
that zip code, the entire zip code is considered covered by that
provider. The General Accounting Office's own study found much, much
lower broadband penetration than the FCC numbers suggest. Laying wires
should represent a natural monopoly. It simply doesn't make economic
sense to lay too many identical sets of wires (it would be like
building many competing, privately owned, highway systems: it's
wasteful) -- which is why the government went around and granted many
of these firms monopoly rights of way in the first place, with the
promise of creating competition within the network, rather than
between networks.

When true wireless systems come along, then perhaps there will be the
necessary competition, but don't buy the hype that cellular wireless,
WiMax or satellite broadband are anywhere near being true competitors
to fiber, let alone DSL or cable. We're still probably a decade away
from seeing real competition from those quarters (though, reformed
spectrum allocation policy could help there as well...).

Then, the Washington Times chimes in with its own anti-network
neutrality screed, saying that we shouldn't worry about network
neutrality because there's no problem yet. This, of course, has been
the argument that the telcos have raised for many years, just more
vocally these days. As we've noted, there is some truth to this -- but
that doesn't mean network neutrality issues deserve to be ignored. As
some have pointed out there are plenty of "speculative" dangers that
the government decides are worth paying attention to, such as
potential terrorist attacks or bird flu.

And, in the case of network neutrality, the executives of AT&T,
Verizon and BellSouth have all stated very publicly that they would
like to break the basic concepts of network neutrality, and make
Google pay again for the part of the internet you already pay for. The
Washington Times piece also totally mischaracterizes the debate,
claiming that network neutrality means the telcos can't charge sites
like Google more for the bandwidth they use. This is flat out
false. The high bandwidth users online, such as Google, Yahoo, Vonage
and others are already paying for their bandwidth. What the telcos are
trying to get them to do is pay double for your bandwidth as well. The
current network neutrality proposals in Congress are really a side
issue that completely ignores the real issue (the lack of
competition). It's no secret that some of the proposals in Congress
have problems as well, but that doesn't mean the issue of network
neutrality should be brushed aside. Of course, instead of getting any
serious debate, we're getting soundbites, lies, misleading arguments,
propaganda and celebrity endorsements. The whole debate, on both
sides, has become a joke.

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