Friday, December 01, 2006

Net Neutrality Takes a Giant Step Forward

Back in October I posted that Net Neutrality's best chance in DC was if the Dems took the House, which they did in November. Now the first step toward protecting NetNeut has been taken with the appointment of Ed Markey--who reportedly had lots of committee options--to chair the House Telecom and Internet subcommittee.

Future challenges are formidable as the corporate-friendly Blue Dog Democrats (like Tennessee's Jim Cooper) could work with Republicans to winnow or cancel out any good things that Markey does to secure NetNeut. Perhaps if the Blue Dogs pay attention to the GAO Report that says that there is less rather than more competition in the telecom business and which criticizes the FCC for not keeping up they will buck their corporate ties and support NetNeut. Since Jim Cooper's stronger constituents include both AT&T and BellSouth, the rest of us are probably going to have to scrap to coax him toward NetNeut.

Speaking of the FCC, Radio Free Nashville is encouraging people to attend the FCC's official hearings on media ownership rules to be held here in Nashville on December 11. They say that Nashvillians should come out and testify before the commission on how media consolidation is a threat to competition and public interest.

1 comment:

  1. S-townMike, I work with the Hands Off the Internet coalition on this issue and we are opposed to net neutrality regulations. Competition, while not perfect, is improving with wi-fi, the recent developments in broadband over power lines and the competition between cable and telco companies.

    You may find this article from Dr. Alfred Kahn, an influential force in deregulation during the Carter administration, interesting. His view is that net neutrality isn't a liberal issue and he also address the question of competition.

    "In telecommunications, cable and telephone companies compete increasingly with one another, and while the two largest wireless companies, Cingular and Verizon, are affiliated with AT&T and Verizon, respectively, some 97 percent of the population has at least a third one competing for their business as well; and Sprint and Intel have recently announced their plan to spend 3 billion dollars on mobile Wi-Max facilities nationwide. Scores of municipalities led by Philadelphia and San Francisco, are building their own Wi-Fi networks. And on the horizon are the electric companies, already beginning to use their ubiquitous power lines to offer broadband--to providers of content, on the one side, and consumers, on the other."

    "Why all the hysteria? There is nothing 'liberal' about the government rushing in to regulate these wonderfully promising turbulent developments. Liberals of both 18th and 20th--and I hope 21st--century varieties should and will put their trust in competition, reinforced by the antitrust laws--and direct regulation only when those institutions prove inadequate to protect the public."