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February 25, 2008

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Les Cargill

The last mile is a disaster area. Like the battle of Cold Harbor, it's trench warfare and technology will not change this. It will only make it worse. WiMax is stillborn and will continue to be. Comcast et al are driven by having to pay huge economic rents to content providers and that seals their fate. Without those rents, there will *be* no content. See "Be Kind Rewind" for details. The only thing they can afford to do is play defense. But the economic rents of the content providers will drive anyone who "competes" to the exact same behavior.

We've already seen Yahoo et al be prepared to discard mechanical licenses on replicated, downloaded content - which leaves the creative contributors out in the cold. Shades of LeRoy Percey and the Greenville Flood - ironic, given the historical role of the Lomaxes.

Other than doing something straight out of Proudhon, nothing can be done. It's Chinatown, Jake. Grab a banjo (or oud, or froglike magic twanger) and make your own entertainment product. Only live music is any good, anyway.

Matt

Andy - in your gas example, you make it sound as though there is enough gas for everybody and that we can open have more output at no cost to anyone already consuming. This is just not a true analogy. We are close to the point where there is not enough bandwidth. By giving more bandwidth to the highest bidder you are forcing other players out. THAT is what will stifle innovation, not the other way around - Matt.

Edward R. Wales-McGrath

Why are European bandwith rates so much faster than ours when they have net neutrality. This sounds more like a lobbying piece from Comcast/ Verizon than any sort of rational opinion. There is very little honesty here.

Ben

I agree with Matt -- how can you expect faster bandwidth speeds at better prices if the net isn't neutral? Even worse, imagine if your ISP decides to give you slower than usual access (or none whatsoever) to The Wall Street Journal website because it is affiliated with the New York Times. Maybe next time you should check with some experts in the field (ie John C. Dvorak of PC Magazine) before hastily coming to an opinion.

John Gage

You have no understanding of this bill or the internet apparently. The internet isn’t like a gas pipe BTW.

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act only guarantees that the Telcos don't cut secret backroom deals with other “mega-corps” to throttle the bandwidth they've sold me.

Connectivity in the USA is ranked 17th in the world... in many other countries bandwidth is faster, cheaper and regulated. The current system isn't working… internet connectivity should be treated like an "information utility" and regulated as such.

Rob Eamon

This response from John Dvorak is a bit in your face, but there are many salient points:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2269835,00.asp

Rafael

A guy that thinks Internet bandwidth is like gas is a guy who does not understand what Internet is. Do not let this corporate lackeys fool you, use the Internet, get more information on the subject and you will know how far off this guy is..

Mark

I think the point is to eliminate bad legislation instead of layering more bad legislation on top.

Unfornutately while you can create laws far to easily, you cannot understand an entire economic system. You cannot predict with near good enough accuracy human behaviour and responses to artificial incentives. Every model, no matter how robust, is somewhat wrong. Mix in the speed of technological change, and there is no way government can get it right in this case. The only good laws are one that protect individual freedoms, including the freedom to compete. I firmly believe we have a dominant technology industry in the US because it was thankfully left alone. Let's continue that trend.

Nick

Andy has written about this before - http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/012/348yjwfo.asp?pg=1. I would read this before calling him a "corporate lackey."

Matt Stofko

In how many places can this article be inaccurate or paradoxical? Let's start counting:

1. "This is all in response to Comcast trying to kill off pirates. Arrgghh."

BitTorrent can and is used for much more than "Arrgghh, pirates." So, more accurately, the quote should read: "This is all in response to Comcast trying very unsuccessfully to kill off pirates. At the same time, they severely inconvenienced their customers, who often have no other solution to turn to."


2. "With net neutrality, there will be no new competition and no incentives for build outs. Bandwidth speeds will stagnate, and new services will wither from bandwidth starvation."

Net Neutrality is the idea of preserving how the internet currently has been operating. We aren't introducing anything new here. So, you're saying that if we preserve things how they currently are, that bandwidth speeds will stagnate. Well, in 1993 I was using a 14.4 Kbps modem, and now I'm using an 8 megabit cable connection. While not with pace of the rest of the world, I hardly call that stagnation.


3. "Municipal or privately run wireless data services using Wi-Fi or WiMax should be sprouting like weeds. But they aren't being built because of lack of access to street lights, of all things, to set up access points."

The lack of municipal Wi-Fi access comes in the form of fat payoffs to municipal governments. Why don't you state that? Probably because it has nothing to do with this argument at all. Let's move on...


4. "Yet, despite an overabundance of bandwidth pulsing throughout the U.S., we are still stuck with rationing to our homes. Haven't we learned that advancing technology is never served by arbitrary rules to divvy up scarce resources?"

Which is it, an overabundance or a scarcity? Make up your mind.


5. "The Internet will only expand based on competitive principles, not socialist diktat."

The Internet will expand, period. Currently, the "socialist diktat" is a government sanctioned monopoly on high-speed access. Asking for those government sanctioned monopolies to play fair doesn't seem like an impediment to expansion. Instead, it's the only way to get some guarantee of service in a market where a customer basically has no recourse.


Like the article states: "We have faux competition, cable monopolies versus phone monopolies." You can thank the socialist diktat for that. Until that one is lifted, I want some neutrality among the players.

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