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Net Neutrality A Likely Reality In 2009

Now that opposition is cleared

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Once the election smoke has cleared, Congress appears poised to pass Network Neutrality legislation. With promises from the Obama campaign about upholding neutrality principles, any remaining FCC opposition will be left standing out on a weak limb.

If you hadn’t noticed that the Congress did virtually nothing these past two years, well, that’s because they were likely laying low while campaign money was still hot (certain major corporations are both anti-neutrality and big donors) and while it was still conceivable to shift blame to an already failing administration. If anything at all was accomplished it was while we were distracted by other things—FISA with telco immunity late enough in campaign season the people were discussing Obama and Clinton, but early enough to secure more money in advance of the big dance, and harsh new copyright infringement legislation while John McCain and Barney Frank were staging histrionic economic crisis distractions.

Laying low definitely paid off, but now Congressional Democrats have some more backup to actually get some things accomplished—one of those things, thanks to less Republican objection, will be Net Neutrality in 2009. No doubt neutral-net champions Ed Markey and Byron Dorgan will be dusting off legislation lying dormant since 2007.

President-elect Obama, if true to his word, will sign it into law soon after he’s appointed a new head of the FCC. The shortlist of candidates for that position, at least in the order BusinessWeek presented them, is a bit disturbing on that front, and includes, much like current Bush-appointed FCC leadership, former lobbyists for AT&T and Verizon as well as executives at lesser known telecom companies. While that industry insider knowledge is doubtlessly valuable, the clearer choice would be one of the current minority commissioners Michael Copps or Jonathan Adelstein, both of whom have been powerful opposition forces against their three Republican counterparts, and especially against the hapless Chairman Kevin Martin.

Both the telecom and cable industries (as well as entertainment associations and network technology companies also with vested interest in the opposite of neutrality) have pushed hard against regulation. The FCC has been hot and cold on it, requiring without enforcement ability Bell South and AT&T to agree to a set of principles in order to merge, and later wrist-slapping Comcast for interfering with torrents. Comcast is appealing action against them, claiming the FCC doesn’t have the authority to punish them. They might be right, at least until legislation is passed.

AT&T is still playing the game on this issue, this mind-blowing quote exiting from AT&T veep James Cicconi in ComputerWorld:

"There’s a lot of people who now believe that companies like AT&T are not plotting to overthrow the open Internet concept," Cicconi said.
 

“It’s against AT&T’s economic interest to block or slow Internet content, because customers demand an open Internet, he added. "Our core asset is our network," he said. "We get paid for carrying bits."
 

Mind-blowing because there has been no larger, stauncher opponent of Net Neutrality, unless Cicconi hasn’t heard his bosses speak about it. Before the merger both CEOs of BellSouth and AT&T expressly stated their opposition and their desire to discriminate between content providers and the company, alongside Verizon, actively lobbied against any such openness while declaring falling skies, dying hospital patients, and crashing economies.

Well, economies crashed alright, but it wasn’t because of Net Neutrality regulation. Rather it seems no regulation at all caused the economies current woes, doesn’t it?

 

Net Neutrality A Likely Reality In 2009
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  • http://creativeherb.com creativeherb

    Almost all of the internet providers that I’ve been with restrict packets or pre-package branded services. To the average newbie user, they wouldn’t know the difference and just accept it as another fact of life.

    I support Network Neutrality because the bigger corporations will also have to increase broadband technology to accomodate for the full unblocking of traffic and it will increase competition in value/content generation to regain revenue. Hopefully, that will eventually lead to bandwidth big enough to do real-time holographic interactions, sooner rather than later. *drool*

  • http://johnbrandon.typepad.com/blog/2008/11/net-neutrality.html John Brandon

    My only issue is why do we need new laws to govern the Internet if is is supposed to be free and open? And why is it a democrat that is introducing the law?

    http://johnbrandon.typepad.com/blog/2008/11/net-neutrality.html

    • Paul S Hughes

      The main reason is because the GOP continues to be and always has been the party of corporate interests and the economice elite. President Bush was not being facicous or sarcastic when he stated at a $25K per plate fundraiser in quote, "Some call all of you attending here this evening the ‘haves’ and ‘have mores’. I call you my base." The GOP leadership have no interest or incentive to bite the hands that fill their election coffers. So therefore it takes people like Senator Dorgan who have a real conviction to do what is right for working class and small business people who have the most to gain from legislation that takes steps in the right direction to offer all internet users equal access to the most important communication system available to individuals w/o access to the halls of power inhabited by our nations economic elites.

    • http://www.usatechnicalservice.com Frank

      Because democrats want to enlarge governmental control over everything, and by enacting a law, is another form of control.

      Republicans may have other motives but democrats do as well. I’m for smaller government and less controls.

      No I’m not a republican! I’m an independent person (Libertarian) that is tired of be regulated to death. Being told what and where and how much is a democrat thing, lest we not remember Jimmy Carter, and Lyndon Johnson.

       

      • Anandakos

        Frank,

        Sorry to say buddy, but the internet in your ideal world will be tolled unmercifully. This little website will have to pay at least ten times as much per megabyte transmitted as will the “partners” of the carriers. YOU will have to pay ten times more to read it than you would to read the oh-so-uplifting “content” of the “partners” of the carriers.

        The carriers will charge Google’s web crawlers an arm and a leg to query websites, EXCEPT those of their “partners”.

        Bob Dylan had it right, “Money doesn’t talk it screams!”

  • http://afonya.net/ Afo

    Well, economies crashed alright, but it wasn’t because of Net Neutrality regulation. Rather it seems no regulation at all caused the economies current woes, doesn’t it?

    I think, you are quite right.

  • Anandakos

    What competition are you talking about? There IS no “competition” in broadband, because the FCC was bought by Comcast and Verizon. They don’t have to provide pipes for other ISP’s as do the phone companies.

    There is token competition in DSL, but it’s not as widely available as is cable internet, nor is it a fast. And the telcos are trying their best to kill it.

    A free market is impossible when corporations are treated as if they are human beings, because they have such enormous capital and do not die. We need a constitutional amendment denying corporations any Bill of Rights guarantees, except the right to defend themselves in lawsuits and to sue one another. They should be forbidden from suing a human being for anything other than fraud or activities which are otherwise illegal.

    • Brett Glass

      As I mentioned above, there are somewhere between 4,000 and 8,000 independent ISPs in the United States today. But if you regulate, they won’t survive. The big guys, like AT&T and Verizon, have buildings full of lawyers who specialize in handling regulation; their smaller competitors can’t afford that. Enforcing arbitrary, restrictive “network neutrality” regulation (which isn’t “neutral” at all; it’s being lobbied for by large corporations such as Google and favors them) would put them right out of business, limiting consumer choice. That regulation would also harm the quality of broadband service and raise the price of that service.

  • http://car2be.com/ Used Hummer

    Almost all of the internet providers that I’ve been with restrict packets or pre-package branded services. To the average newbie user, they wouldn’t know the difference and just accept it as another fact of life.

  • http://car2be.com/ Used Hummer

    Almost all of the internet providers that I’ve been with restrict packets or pre-package branded services. To the average newbie user, they wouldn’t know the difference and just accept it as another fact of life.

  • Guest

    I’m looking forward to reading the full article. I wonder how the learning (programming) compares to work done on using actual neural cultures as computational units testking 642-642 (e.g. Potter at Georgia Tech). Simulating the same equations without living tissue would definitely be a nice robustness gain, not to mention size reduction, but AI skeptics will have a hard time denying “intelligence” to an actual brain! :)

  • Guest

    I’m looking forward to reading the full article. I wonder how the learning (programming) compares to work done on using actual neural cultures as computational units testking RH302 (e.g. Potter at Georgia Tech). Simulating the same equations without living tissue would definitely be a nice robustness gain, not to mention size reduction, but AI skeptics will have a hard time denying “intelligence” to an actual brain! :)

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