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"National" broadband policy a stalking horse for regulating Internet

Watch out when Big Government advocates call for a "national" anything!

  • House Telecom Chairman Ed Markey is calling for a "national broadband map."
  • Senator Rockefeller (WV) and others are calling for a "national broadband plan."  

Egads! 

A "national broadband plan" is a codeword for a 1970's-style government "industrial policy" where the government decides what technologies consumers get and which companies will succeed of fail. 

  • Industrial policies proved economically disastrous -- and thankfully were abandoned in the US -- allowing our economy to flourish.
    • Look no further than the mess of the current French economy, which is the world's petri dish for "national" industrial policies. 
    • Their economy and employment situation is one of the leading basketcases of Europe.

My first big problem with this "national" thinking is that there is no national broadband problem.

  • The US has more facilites-based broadband deployment, investment and competition nationally than any other country -- by a wide margin.
  • Is deployment perfect nationwide? of course not.
    • If there is a broadband problem it is in some isolated rural areas.
    • We may have a "rural" broadband problem but not a "national" broadband problem!

My second big problem is Senator Rockefeller's call for a new "national" goal of 10Mbps broadband by 2010 and 100 Mbps by 2015.

Excellent ACI study proves how net neutrality harms consumers

Kudos to Steve Pociask of the American Consumer Institute on his excellent paper on: "Net Neutrality and the Effects on Consumers."

  • It should be required reading for all consumer groups.
  • It exposes how net neutrality does not benefit the average American consumer, but benefits special interests like high-volume Internet users... like consumer "groups."   

Steve's clear, insightful, and easy-to-read paper explains how net neutrality would harm consumers by:

The Economist's global digital rankings differ from OECD's rankings

If you care about the reality of American competitiveness and innovation be sure to check out the recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) global digital rankings.

  • "The EIU e-readiness rankings for 2007 ranked 69 countries in terms of six criteria. In order of importance, these are: consumer and business adoption; connectivity and technology infrastructure; business environment, social and cultural environment, government policy and vision; and legal and policy environment."

What's most interesting, is that this objective ranking by the respected Economist, does not show the negative broadband outlook or assessment of the US that the OECD ranking does

  • In this EIU overall ranking, the United States ranks #2, not 12th or 15th like in the OECD rankings.
  • The EIU full report also has North America ranked higher than Western Europe in broadband affordability!
  • Listen to this quote from the full report:
    • "The US, with its heavily entrepreneurial culture, penchant for innovation and highly IT-literate workforce and student population, stands clear at the top of the group." 
  • Concerning "Consumer and business adoption: The report says:
    • "In the sheer scale of individual and business Internet use, the US certainly dwarfs all other countries."
    • "There is some concern that the great weight of the US in online activity makes it a sponge for the world's available digital resources, including talent and funding."

So why is this EIU report important? 

Search is not neutral for the little guy! -- according to the WSJ

I just got around to reading the WSJ small business insert section from April 30, and to my surprise what do I find?

In the WSJ section cover story: "In search of traffic" by Kelly Spors, she notes this in her third paragraph:

  • "Search engines don't disclose their ranking formulas, making it tough for small companies to figure out how to boost their site's results. Even worse, big competitors can afford to pour lots of resources into the same effort putting small companies at a bigger disadvantage."

Very interesting that search is not neutral. It favors big companies!

  • Horrors!
  • How could Google, the champion of all garage entrepreneurs, the corporate guardian of net neutrality, the defender of free content, and the only corporate chieftains organizationally committed to not being evil --how could they, the Googlers, be allowing harm to come to the little guy?
  • Where is their sense of justice? Where is their moral center? Where is their outrage?  
  • Say it ain't so Sergey, Larry and Eric!
    • We so want to believe your billionaire-nesses are true to the cause!  

If Google is the dominant search engine and the main Internet access technology for upwards of a half billion Internet users, and Google itself is not net neutral -- how is that setting a good example for the broadband companies Google demands should be net neutral?

Schwartz' brings adult supervision to Wu's sophomoric NN analysis

It is always a joy to read clear thinking rigorous analysis. I have known and respected Marius Schwartz's mind and work for several years, and I am delighted that he brought the heft of his intellect and  DOJ experience to the question of "wireless net neutrality" in his white paper:

For anyone who cares about the merits or substance of net neutrality as a proposed public policy, it would be hard to find a better debunking of Columbia Law Professor Tim Wu's sophomoric and vacuous work on wireless net neutrality than Marius'.

Exposing DoubleClick's misdirection on Google-Doubleclick merger

The WSJ yesterday had an illuminating interview with David Rosenblatt CEO of DoubleClick about its acquisition by Google.  

Mr. Rosenblatt engaged in some pretty effective "spin" so I thought it would be helpful to shine a brighter light on some of his pat answers that were... how should I say it... less than forthcoming.

In response to a question about whether he could reassure web publishers that Google did not have too much market power, he said: "Google shares revenues with publishers so it makes sense that their interests are pretty much aligned." 

listen to Larry Irving's podcast on America's broadband challenges

I recommend listening to Larry Irving's, (President of the Internet Innovation Alliance) keynote at the Killer App expo that can be heard by podcast.

  •  On one point near to my heart, not taxing the Internet, Irving asked, "Why is telecommunications such a highly taxed product (3rd behind alcohol and gambling) when it's such an important tool for growth and competition?" Two of those products can hurt people, but better communications access can only help the economy.

He makes a great point. It makes no sense to tax an engine of economic growth as mucha s we do.  

Great study debunking Wu's Wireless net neutrality scam

I recommend a strong academic paper that debunks the sloppy thinking and analysis behind Columbia Professor Tim Wu's call for wireless net neutrality -- its by: Robert Hahn and Robert Litan of AEI/Brookings and Hal Singer of Criterion Economics.

  • It is an important rebuttal that concludes that the costs of wireless net neutrality would exceed any benefits.

What I like most about the study is that it is a systematic evisceration of the logic and evidence behind Mr. wu's call for wireless net neutrality.

Google's hypocrisy in signing a non-neutral deal with ISP China Telecom

Google's net neutrality hypocrisy only grows.

It will be fun to hear Google's explanatory gymnastics on this one! 

  • How can Google say with a straight face that is for net neutrality here in the U.S. when it cuts non-neutral broadband ISP arrangements with China Telecom on top of aiding and abetting the Chinese Government in censoring what the Chinese people can access from the Internet?
  • Do as Google says...

JeffersonNet...EdisonNet... How about NoRegulationNet?

Curt Monash in his blog suggests a "third way" for net neutrality to go -- applying regulation to the "JeffersonNet" or "bandwidth-light" parts of the Internet while not applying it to the "EdisonNet," the more "communications-rich" applications where regulation would be an impediment.

  • Others have picked up on this thread, Slashdot, and Computerworld, intrigued with the middle way or third way thinking.
  • Before people get carried away that there is merit in this wishful thinking thread of discussion -- lets add a dose of reality.

With all due respect, the "middle way" thinking is seriously flawed because it assumes a compromise between views with equal merit.

  • Fast forwarding to a compromise of what or how much the Internet is regulated assumes the case has been made for any new regulation of the Internet.
    • That case has not been made at all.
    • Net neutrality is a pathetic ragtag collection of buzzword-blackmail assertions, unsubstantiated allegations and bogus claims.
  • Sure the net neutrality side would like to compromise because they have lost in every official and legal forum they have raised the issue.
    • Sure they would like to compromise because that would give desperately-needed validation to a bankrupt idea that is on the ropes.
    • Sure they would like to get the proverbial "camels nose under the tent."

In order to talk net neutrality compromise, net neutrality proponents have to make the case that they have legitimate concerns to begin with.

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