Friday, June 23, 2006

Net Neutrality

Being a professional geek, and at the same time, a Libertarian, I think I need to make known my position on this issue. The easiest way to do it, is to copy and paste the feelings of a Slashdot poster. View the full topic thread here. View the subthread where I grabbed this quote here.

"I've realized something: the real problem here isn't actually "net neutrality" or lack thereof; that's a red herring. The real problem is actually the fact that the telcos want to keep their monopoly protection and common-carrier status, but get rid of all those pesky regulations that keep them from abusing their power even worse than they do now"

"mrchaotica" is right on. Net neutrality, and federal involvement in regulating internet traffic is not the answer to whatever preceived dangers exist at the hands of government created monopolies (telcos and cable companies). The answer is to attack the real root of the problem, that problem is that those government created monopolies are now hoping to flex their muscle and abuse their power, as monopolies.

Several years ago, I lived in Bowie, MD. That is Prince Georges County for those of you out of the Washington, DC area. I went through a lot of grief with DSL not long after it became available. I was buying my DSL service through a Covad reseller. Now, I don't know how much you know about all of the DSL stuff that went on, and probably still is going on, but Verizon, in this area, owns all the copper to your house. They were forced by the government to make that available to competitors like Covad, who could then offer me service over those copper wires. Verizon though, was still able to make the whole thing hard enough, unreliable enough, and not help Covad enough (while Covad could use the lines, they weren't allowed access to them to fix them when there was a problem, they had to call Verizon and get Verizon to do it), to make Covad look awful. Because I knew what was going on, I went to the cable modem, rather than reward Verizon.

After seeing the lack of options from Comcast (at the time, one could not get a static IP or different ranges of bandwidth other than the single flat amount), I began to look into what other choice I had. I had none. I knew of a company called Starpower , related to RCN, and called them. In certain parts of Montgomery County (another county in Maryland, just outside DC) I had heard they were laying their own fiber to people's homes. They told me that they had come very close to operating in Bowie, they had a deal all set to go through with the PG county government, but the County Executive (at the time) had nixed it after RCN had basically refused to give money to his re-election or something. The real thrust here being that a possible competitor to the local communications monopolies was unable to do business in a county, because they wouldn't play ball with the corrupt local government. I haven't live in Bowie for many years, so I do not know what the situation is now, I am sure Bowie is big enough now that they have WISPs (Wireless ISPs) and the like. And thats great for them. But that does not exist everywhere. The only true solution to the issues we face in the future, is to allow the market to solve the problem. And we cannot do that by giving more power to monopolies. We also should not do that by layering more regulation on those monopolies. Those regulations are doomed to abuse and fraud, as all government regulations are. The only answer is to destroy the monopolies, by allowing other companies to offer the same services.