Tech Sociologist David Weinberger, author of “Everything is Miscellaneous” gives us a good old fashioned July 4 call for deregulation, or “delamination” of the major telco carriers. In the essay “Delamination Now: How to Keep the Internet the Way of the Princess Phone,” Weinberger argues that the behavior of the carriers violates Net Neutrality and allows the carriers to turn the internet into cable TV. Net Neutrality is anathema to the carrier business model (using enormous government subsidies and monopoly status to turn a profit), and the carriers are spending $1.4mm a week lobbying against it.
Weinberg argues that even if Net Neutrality laws are pushed through Congress, the carriers will ignore most restrictions, much like any part of the Telecom Act of 1996 the carriers didn’t like, all while eating up generous subsidies. Anyone remember the $200bn the carriers used to build a fiber optic network?
Turning the internet into cable TV is a bad thing. Imagine AT&T asking Google to pony up some cash so that its search results are delivered as fast as Yahoo’s, not delivering movie downloads of a Hollywood studio that won’t pay an extra fee, or billing users a premium rate for accessing some websites over others.
Weinberg’s solution is to open the whole thing up again, and force the carriers to open their infrastructure to ISPs. This will enforce a dual layer structure where the ISPs will pay wholesale rates to the carriers and the ISPs will provide retail service, opening up bit by bit connection competition. Net-topia is a short jump away, from Weinberg’s essay:
Of course, these ISPs are likely going to use cables already laid by the incumbent carriers (heavily subsidized by taxpayers, by the way). For this the carriers deserve to be compensated at reasonable rates. That’s the way it was until the Supreme Court decided that it was unfair to the poor carriers.
Companies trying to sell us professional content — think Hollywood — will still be able to, of course. They’ll have the same access to the Internet as the rest of us. So, if a movie studio does a deal with a cable company to offer us a package deal that gives us ten of their movies for free every month as well as low-cost telephony, they certainly can. They just won’t be able to torque the Internet so that it works better for their services than for their competitors. Welcome to capitalism, boys!
This all sounds great in theory, but would require a complete paradigm shift away from Congress thinking the internet is a series of tubes, and the Telco companies getting some of the most egregiously favorable Congressional treatment out of any industry. Any measure that calls for “an engaged citizenry” is most often doomed to be wishful thinking.
Weinberger: Delaminate the bastard telcos! [BoingBoing]