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Needed innovation that net neutrality would ban

Qualcomm's MediaFlo subsidiary has a network innovation and will soon have a commercial offering that will make it  easier to broadcast TV content to mobile phones.

Qualcomm reportedly is spending about $800m in risk capital to gain spectrum and build a mobile broadcast network for cellphones that will be able to reach about 100 million potential users in the U.S. by mid-year.

  • Qualcomm plans to make money in three ways:
    • By selling its innovative chip to the cellphone maker;
    • By sharing ad revenue from the TV shows, and
    • By collecting royalties to the technology. 
  • Why is Qualcomm's network innovation so valuable?
    • Video is a big bandwidth hog and wireless is relatively more bandwidth-constrained than traditional broadband options.
    • While the Internet and IP technology can handle short video clips like YouTube, which Verizon Wireless plans to offer, Internet or IP technology is not very good at distributing full-length TV or movie video over the Internet, a point a Google engineer recently echoed in Europe.
  • Why this network innovation is so valuable is that Qualcomm has found a way to offer longer TV or movie length video to cellphones -- without degrading the speed or service of other broadband applications like voice, web surfing etc.
    • This increases consumer welfare, achieves economic efficiency, and keeps the Internet fast -- a win-win for everyone. 

At the core of Qualcomm's innovation is that they are creating a parallel private broadband network or broadband "tier" that prioritizes TV/movie length video over other content and applications by diverting this selected heavy-bandwidth traffic and usage to a private network for those willing to pay extra for the special benefit.

  • What's wrong with that? Nothing! 
  • This is precisely the type of innovation, prioritization, tiering, and content discrimination that serves consumers and keeps the Internet fast and responsive!
    • It provides users, who want and freely choose to get it, the opportunity to pay more to get a service that is not currently possible at the quality level they want over the mobile Internet. 

But wait a minute. There is a big wet blanket out there to this kind of innovation.  

Net neutrality and the Dorgan-Snowe would ban this type of "network" innovation because it would be offered as part of a "discriminatory" or differential broadband service provider's offering -- that all Internet content or Internet users could not "equally" benefit from.

  • Net neutrality, as Dorgan-Snowe envisions it, assumes "good" innovation only comes from "edge,"software, or online community because the network should be "dumb."
    • Innovation like Qualcomm's is considered "bad" innovation because it is a form of "smart-network innovation" that is not part of the beloved IP end-to-end network design school that net neutrality proponents want to protect by law.  
      • Apparently, it doesn't matter that Qualcomm is a leader in network innovation and their innovation is solving a valuable problem for consumers, broadband providers and Internet users.
      • Under net neutrality orthodoxy embodied in the current Senate bill and last year's Markey bill, only "innovation" deemed acceptable and blessed by SaveTheInternet, the online giants like Google, Yahoo, eBay, and Amazon -- should be legal.
        • I guess the free and open Internet is only for "pre-approved" innovation and for innovators that pledge to innovate on the "edge" and pledge to not to work with or give comfort to net neutrality's avowed broadband provider "enemies."

In short, net neutrality and Dorgan-Snowe would ban Qualcomm's non-neutral type of innovation in favor of Google-Youtube's supposedly "neutral" innovation.

  • How does that promote a free, open and fast Internet?
  • On what basis does anyone believe the Government would be good at picking what technologies or innovations consumers will most likely embrace?

Isn't it obvious that net neutrality is just a cleverly packaged, old-school, industrial policy that picks Silicon Valley and the online giants as winners and broadband providers as losers?