Forget Net Neutrality: Just Take The Networks Away From The Telcos

from the root-for-no-one dept

Slowly, but surely, people are starting to figure out what's really going on with the network neutrality debate. While some of us have been trying to point out that the network neutrality debate is only clouding the real issue concerning competition in the broadband space, too many people have been focused on which side of the ridiculous debate you're on. However, both the telcos and the internet companies have been feeding the public exaggerated propaganda that continues to obscure the real issue. Hopefully the tide is turning. Last week, Tom Evslin wrote up a great summary of the situation, pointing out why both sides were lying and how competition was the issue. Now, Andy Kessler has matched him with a fun opinion piece for the Weekly Standard explaining why you should root for no one in the net neutrality debates. He points out that the telcos have to push against net neutrality, because otherwise their business model collapses -- an argument he made a few years ago when it came to line sharing (the lack of which has obliterated what little competition there was in the broadband space). Kessler goes on to knock down the telco supporters' favorite argument about how they'll never invest in new fiber without a guarantee of a profitable business model:
"Forget the argument that telcos need to be guaranteed a return on investment or they won't upgrade our bandwidth. No one guarantees Intel a return before they spend billions in R&D on their next Pentium chip to beat their competitors at AMD. No one guarantees Cisco a return on their investment before they deploy their next router to beat Juniper. In real, competitive markets, the market provides access to capital.
So, what's the solution? Kessler comes up with a modest proposal of sorts, that is amusing to read, but which will never play in Silicon Valley with its libertarian focus on "property rights." He suggests yanking language out of the Supreme Court Kelo "eminent domain" case -- and using that to argue for taking over broadband networks from the telcos (a situation for which there is some evidence that better broadband can be delivered). His point, satirically enough, is that if the threats are made loudly enough, it could freak out the telcos just enough to generate some real competition in new networks. Instead, though, we're left with arguing about silly side arguments backed up by musicians who have no clue what they're talking about. Suddenly, arguing for eminent domain over telco networks doesn't seem quite so silly...
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  1. identicon
    Jason, 19 Jun 2006 @ 9:19pm

    Re: That's plain stupidity

    quote: " True but in the examples given for the most part none of these companies need to worry about the gov't taking steps to completely turn their business models upside down. Can anyone imagine the outcry if Intel designed a chip that is so far beyond anything available today and than the gov't steps in and says "You cant only sell that in high end machines at 2k plus since that would mena the masses could not affort it. Instead you must sell it at a lower price." The entire investmetnt market would dry up in a hearbeat and the stock market would crash. How is the net neutrality debate which at its core is focussed on "best effort vs prioritized packets" any different?"

    Haven't you done any research on net neutrality at all? Net neutrality has been a part of the net for over a decade, until just last year when the telcos convinced the FCC to change the rules. This isn't a debate about adding net neutrality, it's about fixing it since the telcos broke it. Now, I'll admit I don't have a problem with certain types of content getting priority- such as video over email. I DO have a problem with certain companies taking priority, especially when it's the telco's decision. That stifles the net.

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