Ok, I’m a little off the real estate target here but it is an issue that effects us all. The biggest factor behind the creation of innovative companies like CraigsList, eBay, Amazon.com and even Google is what? The Internet of course. The Internet has been a decisive factor in leveling the playing field between the giant corporations and the startups with great ideas. This provides the environment for real estate related companies like Redfin and Zillow as well as social networking sites such as MySpace.com and YouTube.com.
Apparently many of the telcos (Sprint, Vorizon, AT&T, etc) feel that they should be getting a share of the revenue created by these new ideas. In exchange for creating a faster Internet, their proposal is a toll booths, private express ways and the slow lane for those who don’t want to line the pockets of the telcos. The very same pockets that have already been lined with $200 Billion in tax breaks to create an infrastructure they’ve failed to deliver on already.
So what to the power hitters and luminaries of the industry have to say? Well, on one side we have AT&T CEO Ed Whiteacre who said “that in order to bring America up to speed through fiber-to-the-premises (fttp) wiring, content providers are going to have to pony up to use his “pipes.” I’m far more inclined to believe the likes of Craig Newmark, founder of CraigsList.
‘Imagine if the leaders of 16th century Germany, feeling threatened by the democratizing forces of the printing press, had taken Gutenberg’s invention and limited its use to those they politically agreed with — or if Luther had to pay licensing fees for nailing up his 95 Theses on every church door in Germany,’ writes Craig Newmark in an opinion column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, father of the Internet, has characterized this as a US-only problem at present. “In Europe, net neutrality is the rule“ he said. Interestingly enough they are also way ahead of the US in broadband technology and capacity. What else can you say about an issue that has united Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Moveon.org all on the same side.
Some of the proposed Net Neutrality legislation is seeking to prevent the telcos from charging extra tariffs based upon the type of content delivered. But even with the heavy hitters like Microsoft and Google, this initiative is facing a tough battle. Just last week those companies favoring net-neutrality lost a key vote in Washington DC. The key lobbyists seem to be siding with the telcos and their bread-and-butter lobbying dollars.
On the other hand, is this law really necessary? There are some who advocate letting them put up road blocks — it will spur more market forces to alternative technology like Wi-Max. Others are against the net neutrality laws as they are currently proposed. Andrew Cantor of USA Today’s Cyberspeak column argues that “Network providers need incentive to build faster pipes…But if they(sic) can’t make money by offering a better product, why would they bother building one?”
As much as I’m a free market leaning entrepreneur I lose my trust when it comes to industry big business. We (the American public) already got taken to the cleaners in the great theft called the Telecommunications Act of 1996. I’m not ready to stand by and watch the same thing happen with the Internet. If you want to take a stand for Interent Neutrality, contact your congressman or senator today. The Senate is actually getting ready to vote on a crucial bill, so let them know this week where you stand.