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Takeaways from SaveTheInternet's "first anniversary" conference call

I listened in to SaveTheInternet's conference call with reporters in celebration of their one year anniversary.

  • It was an illuminating "window" into the nature and status of the current Net neutrality "movement."

Senator Dorgan (D-ND) author of the pending Dorgan-Snowe Bill was the keynote and star.  

  • He framed net neutrality as  "Internet freedom" and "open architecture" and breathlessly stated that "the future of the Internet is at stake." 
  • He announced that he was seeking a hearing on his legislation with the goal of moving it to the Senate floor implying he had the votes to pass it.
  • He also anticipated and asked himself the core question of "why is the legislation needed?"
    • His only answer was to read the December 2005 Business Week quote by then SBC Chairman Ed Whitacre about how it was "nuts" for Google to use its pipes for free.
    • I was stunned that he as the keynote and the name author of the legislation that he could not come up with a more recent or better piece of "evidence" or at least come up with a real world example of a problem or instance he is concerned about.
      • This is obviously all politics; they have no substance or they would present it.

Craig Newmark was second to speak and he asserted everyone he knew was for NN. (I guess we should give up now.)

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.

Moveon.org 2nd largest PAC in 2006 -- the prime "mover" behind net neutrality

I always knew Moveon.org was a powerful political force, but I just learned how powerful -- Moveon.org was the second largest Political Action Committee (PAC) in the US in 2006, according to the Washington Post "In The Loop" column by Jeffery H. Birnbaum.

  • Moveon.org, with its 3 million person email list, was the second-largest PAC with $27.7 million, after Emily's List at $34.1 million. Political MoneyLine was the cited source. 

Moveon.org's political clout combined with its zealousness for promoting net neturality regulation and the front-loaded 2008 political process mean net neutrality will likely remain on the "techcom" political agenda as a key issue for the foreseeable future -- despite getting repudiated by the House, Senate, Supreme Court, FCC, FTC, NTIA, Maryland, Michigan to only name the most prominent forums that rejected regulating the Internet.

Podcast of my first NN debate with Craig Newmark of Craig's List fame

After almost a year of opposing quotes in articles on net neutrality, the NAM weekly radio show/podcast on business, finally afforded me the opportunity to debate Craig Newmark, the famous founder of Craig's List, one-on-one live.While

  • While I was looking forward to hearing his best arguments for net neutrality, it became clear from the outset that he did not want to debate the issue, but wanted to try and discredit me and my personal views from as far back as 1999.
    • It turned out to be a decent strategy for him because his knowledge of the issue was surprisingly thin and he obviously did not want to engage on the merits or facts of the issue

I said I was happy to discuss my current and past views with him because it was a tacit concession by him that the net neutrality side of the debate cannot win this debate on the merits and that their best chance is attacks on me as a leading spokesperson for the broadband sector on why the Internet should not be regulated.

Forbes cover story: proof the net is not neutral!

The people who still argue that the Internet is "neutral" have some explaining to do.

  • They certainly don't want you to read the super Forbes cover story on Akamai: "Video Prophet: How Akamai survived the dot-com bust to thrive on speed."
    • Check out these quotes from the article that drive home the point that the Internet has never been "neutral:"
    • ..."Akamai's big idea is that by rewriting the Internet's basic rules--making some computers smarter and more equal than others--it can let the Net grow infinitely large without breaking down."...
      • Horrors! Akamai is not treating bits equally! Someone call the Government!
    • ..."a basic idea: Connect computers to the far reaches of the Net, then program them to communicate with one another to spot better routes for getting e-mails, Web pages and other packets to where they needed to go."...
      • But the Internet is supposed to be a DUMB network! A "smarter" network would not be innovative...that can't be right...
    • ..."Eventually they refined a business idea: a service that essentially would be the FedEx (nyse: FDX - news - people ) of the Internet. People could always trust the public Net to deliver their information cheaply. But others might be willing to pay Akamai a premium to deliver their content faster and more reliably..."
      • Horrors again! Someone had the gall to think the perfectly "equal" Internet could be made better with a market concept of a tiered Internet... oh tell me its not true!
    • ..."Every few months the algorithm writers in Cambridge inject better software into the global network to make it shrewder at picking routes for Internet traffic."...
      • Egads! There are dark forces out there making the Internet less equal every few months!

I feel kinda bad that all those well-intentioned people that fell for the original slogan of "net neutrality" were suckered into assuming the Internet was "neutral" and needed to stay that way.

Save the taxpayer from the latest net neutrality spectrum scam

Today's WSJ editorial page hits the free-market nail on the head once again in its lead editorial: "The Spectrum Game"; it's about the FCC's upcoming decision on how to auction the 700 MHz of spectrum that is considered by the market to be "the Riviera beachfront property" of all spectrum potentially available.

  • WSJ: "... Like Mr Hundt, they know such conditions [like net neutrality] might scare off auction competition and increase the chances of Frontline grabbing the licenses for a song."

WSJ understands this is the most valuable spectrum the FCC has ever auctioned.

  • Naturally this valuable spectrum has spawned a cottage industry of policy entrepreneurs who want to figure out a way to divert the billions of dollars due the American taxpayer under the law -- to their companies' coffers. 
  • They try to justify this multi-billion wealth transfer from the American taxpayer to companies by saying it would forward a "popular" net neutrality mandate, a social-engineering policy which Congress specifically rejected mandating only last year.    

I hope the FCC is wise enough to see through this net neutrality spectrum scam, and not effectively bypass Congress' authority by effectively legislating corporate spectrum entitlements unauthorized by Congress.

To guard against charges that there is an-under-the-table transfer of billions of dollars due the American taxpayer under the law, the FCC needs to be completely transparent and upfront about the implications their decisions have on auction proceeds.

How Google-Double-Click is exploiting antitrust law's soft underbelly

The news of Google acquiring Double-Click prompted me to spend a good part of my weekend analyzing the competitive implications of this seminal proposed acquisition for the future of the Internet.

My analysis focused on answering the following key questions of interest:

  • What is Google's real competitive endgame with DoubleClick?
  • Why is this acqusition likely to pass antitrust muster?
  • Why will Google increasingly dominate Internet search?
  • What other anticompetitive behaviors by Google position Google to dominate Internet advertising?

Summary of my conclusions:

Comcast exec spotlights Google's hypocrisy on net neutrality

MultiChannel News has a great write up of a tough speech on net neutrality by David Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast.

  • “When you cut through the rhetoric, what they [Google, Yahoo] want from the federal government is new regulations that would guarantee them below cost-access to the broadband networks that carry most of the Internet content in this country,â€? Cohen said in a speech to the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia.

Kudos to Mr. Cohen for taking the gloves off and saying what needs to be said.

John Edwards on Net Neutrality -- Lip synching the Moveon.org song

Moveon.org's SaveTheInternet blog is touting Democratic Presidential Candidate John Edwards' recent comments supporting net neutrality.

  • So why am I bringing attention to this win by the other side?
  • Well first I think its always important to genuflect to Moveon.org's prowess when they get people to lip synch their talking points "song."

We all know politics is often driven by fear and by creating boogeymen where none really exist -- and at that, Moveon.org is a master.  

The Bogus "Human Face of Net Neutrality" -- Moveon.org as top-down puppeteer

The Politico ran a story April 9th called the "The Human Face of Net Neutrality" that grossly exagerates the "net roots" involvement on net neutrality. 

The article implies that there is somehow a difference between the "Moveon.org net roots" and traditional broadband lobbying.

  • Give me a break.
  • Moveon.org's Free Press/SaveTheInternet is a very sophisticated Washington lobbying operation whose schtick is simulating "grass roots."
  • Lets be real.
  • Moveon.org is basically a 3 million person email list, where Moveon.org's Washington puppeteers pull the strings from the "top down" to "simulate" a "bottoms up" groundswell political movement on net neturality.   
  • I don't buy it.

All this Politico article reports is that Moveon.org was able to "top down" organize dozens of meetings during recess with dozens of members on net neutrality.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths