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. icon
    Mike (profile), 19 Jun 2006 @ 3:50am

    Re: Forget Net Neutrality

    Net neutrality ensures that websites like this don't have to use the "country roads" while the big corporate websites use the "superhighways". It sounds to me like you're shooting yourself in a foot for a little ad revenue.

    Hmm. We understand what net neutrality is. The point is that it wouldn't matter if there were real competition, because no one would be able to break net neutrality.

    Legislating net neutrality is missing the point. It's going after one small point that's the result of the lack of competition in the space.

    If you read Techdirt on a regular basis, you would see that we're no fan of the telcos at all, so I'm not sure what you mean by us shooting ourselves in the foot for a little ad revenue?!? If you're going to accuse us of selling out, you'd better defend it a lot better than that...

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