April 27, 2004

Fencing The Range

Pandagon posts about Bush's new tax-free broadband proposal. It could just be interest group politics, always possible. But if you follow the bouncing ball...

...Telephone carriers want the government to ease regulations on their service so they can roll it out more quickly without worries that they may have to share their networks with rivals as they have for traditional telephone service. ...

Now, leaving aside for the moment that lifting a requirement for broadband telephony providers to share their networks would leave us with cable-style net access (any color you like, as long as it's black), this will end the free range internet. Not having to share their networks means, well, not having to share. Just like cable broadband providers don't, because their never was such a requirement for cable.

But cable broadband does let you access whatever's out there, and at the same speed as their in-network servers and content. Because they have to compete with DSL.

If the phone companies get their way, will they have to let you access content or users who aren't in their system? Will you get pages from out-of-network servers as fast as in-network servers? You might, as long as they kinda, sorta have to compete with... dial up. After that, it's all up to the goodness of their own hearts.

Shared network access was forced onto telephone companies so that anyone in America could call anyone else in America, no matter what company provided the wire to their house. But that was back when there were people in government who had fuzzy-ass notions about something called a 'public good.'

Posted by natasha at April 27, 2004 09:52 AM | Internet | Technorati links |

someone noted elsewhere that dubya's proposal ignores the fact that one of the purposes of taxes on broadband (like current taxes on phone service) would be to extend service to rural areas and other places where providers really don't want to go -- that old idea of universal service that was forced on the bell system in the early 20th century. if providers aren't forced to provide universal service, they won't.

Posted by: Magpie at April 27, 2004 10:03 AM

Hmm. Starve the beast rides again. These people, you have to give them credit for extreme sneakiness.

They want to a) prevent you from getting a line if you don't have one, and b) fiddle with how you'll be able to use one if you do have one. That's at least 2 birds, but I'm thinking we must be missing something else now.

Posted by: natasha at April 27, 2004 10:08 AM