Telecom Doublespeak, Network Neutrality And Rewriting The Rules

from the it-all-comes-together dept

As we've hit the 10th year mark on the Telecom Act of 1996 and people are finally realizing it's time for a rewrite, it seems that rather than serious discussions about what needs to be done, we're getting spin and doubletalk from paid shills -- paid for by telcos who are trying to claim that this is about "choice." That's rather amusing, because the point that others are making is that the whole reason this is a problem is because there is no real choice, in that the telcos have been able to cut out all of the real competition -- even in cases where they got all sorts of government assistance in exchange for promises to keep the competition around. It appears, however, that the paid shills have successfully convinced FCC chief Kevin Martin (apparently the way to his heart is to sing him Happy Birthday). He's now been quoted, once again, as saying that there's no reason to worry about network neutrality because there's no evidence that the telcos are doing anything. Apparently, he hasn't been listening to Verizon, AT&T and BellSouth, who haven't missed an opportunity in the past few months to say very publicly that they're doing everything they can to end network neutrality on their networks.
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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 9 Feb 2006 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Choice and

    It just isn't true that there's no choice. Virtually every consumer has, at a minimum, a choice between DSL and cable. Now, you might thinks that not enough choice, and I might agree, but it's something. At a minimum, it's vastly preferable to the situation 20 years ago where most consumers only had one choice for each telecom service.

    A valid point, to a degree. The conversation, though, is really about true broadband systems -- which the cable guys are running into trouble with. The telcos can offer it with fiber, but the cable guys run out of room pretty quickly. Wireless, of course, is nowhere near able to handle the kinds of speed and traffic necessary. So, yeah, there will be less choice for real broadband pretty shortly.

    On another subject, if Sonia is a "paid shill," then you should add me to the list as well. I spent two years working at the Cato Institute, whose contributors include Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner. (Although the bulk of Cato's money--70%--comes from individual donors) My current employer, the Show-Me Institute, would gladly take money from those companies (or anyone else) if they would give it to us. However, we're very clear with our donors that they don't get to have any say in what we write. Our donors give us money because they like what we say, not because we say what they like.

    Fair enough. Perhaps the paid shill comment was uncalled for. However, when you have someone who consistently and repeatedly states things in an extremely slanted way and refuses to take into account important info that contradicts what they say... then you have to question the motivations of that person.

    I don't always agree with you, Tim, but I've seen that we can disagree over things and we'll both take each other's points seriously.

    I think that's the difference. The people I trust are ones who have a difference of opinions over what conclusions can be drawn from the facts. The people who get classified as paid shills are ones who clearly ignore facts -- even after they've been pointed out to them. Sonia has done that in the past -- which makes me question the integrity of what she writes.

    So working at a think tank that takes money from corporations isn't my first choice, but I don't think it's anything to be ashamed of. I'd like to think my arguments would be evaluated on their merits, not based on where my paycheck comes from.

    Indeed. As I was stating above, the paid shill comment wasn't just because she works at a think tank, but because she seems to parrot their viewpoints without any critical thought and while purposely ignoring or refusing to address important facts.

    To me, that's the difference between a real think tank and a paid shill.

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