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My letter to Senate Committee on Net Neutrality asking: Why now? Why worsen recession?

Below is the full text of the letter I sent to all members of the Senate Commerce Committee and the Senate leadership questioning why of all times -- now -- for pushing net neutrality?

April 22, 2008

The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye

722 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510-1102

ATTN: Telecom Legislative Assistant

Dear Chairman Inouye:

U.S. Not falling behind world on broadband/Internet -- must read New York Times on new study

Kudos to John Markoff of the New York Times for a excellent, informative, and balanced article about the ongoing debate over where the U.S. really ranks in the world on Internet/broadband infrastructure.   

  • The article, "Study Gives High Marks to U.S. Internet," does a good job of letting both sides of this fierce and ongoing debate get in their best points.

First, the article shares the news of the seventh annual World Economic Forum report produced by a French Business School which shows that the U.S. ranks 4th up from 7th last year and which contrasts with the more narrow OECD study that focuses on broadband penetration and shows the U.S. ranking lower and falling.

Second, what I most appreciated was that the article candidly explored that there are two opposing world views at work trying to use statistics and studies to promote their world views.

How redefining broadband's lowest speed could be anti-competition & undermine universal broadband availability

I was surprised and concerned to read in Comm Daily today that the FCC's broadband data collection rulemaking "is expected to swap the FCC minimum speed for broadband -- 200 kbps -- for a tiered approach. The lowest tier would set 768 kbps as the minimum speed, an FCC source said."

  • I certainly hope this is not the case, as it could have a ton of negative unintended consequences which I will outline below.

How could changing the baseline minimum definition of what is broadband turn out to be anti-competition and undermine the universal availability of broadband?

Exposing the sanctimony of net neutrality activists

Enough of Net neutrality activists' hypocritical sanctimony over freedom, free speech and democracy! It is sickening.

Net neutrality activists claim to support freedom, free speech, and democracy, but they really don't in practice.

First, let's look at the recent activist whining from FreePress/SaveTheInternet about how the FCC network management forum at Harvard was somehow hijacked by Comcast sympathetic attendees or who these activists have derisively called "seat fillers."

New NetCompetition.org one pager: Why Markey net neutrality Bill would regulate the Internet

  

Why the Markey Net Neutrality Bill Would Regulate the Internet

H.R.5353 would alter the FCC’s priorities to put Internet regulation ahead of competition   

Where the Markey Bill explicitly would regulate the Internet: 

Connected Nation broadband legislation would stimulate economy; Markey legislation would stifle it

Connected Nation's new report on the economic impact of pending broadband mapping bills shows how public/private partnerships could accelerate broadband deployment to all Americans and provide an estimated $134b direct economic stimulus per year for the nation.

  • The pending broadband mapping legislation adopts a bipartisan consensus approach of public/private partnerships to discover where broadband gaps are and how to stimulate actual broadband deployment to those underserved areas.
    • This mainstream approach is focused on a consensus mainstream goal that has bipartisan mainstream support -- encouraging broadband deployment to all Americans.

Contrast this mainstream legislation to promote universal broadband, with the new fringe net neutrality legislation proposed by House Telecom Chairman Ed Markey.

National Broadband Strategy Proponent has blindspot for mobile broadband

I was very surprised at the answer I got when I asked Bob Atkinson, the ITIF author of "Framing a National Broadband Policy" a question at the Alliance for Public Technology panel discussion last Friday on the topic of: "Framing a National Broadband Policy."

Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management -- new one-pager

Given the flurry of comments to the FCC on the FreePress petition on Comcast's network management due yesterday, I produced a new NetCompetition one-pager on Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management. I find the one-page format is useful to crystalize my thinking and boil my thoughts down most succinctly.

The primary conclusions in the one pager are:

  • Net neutrality has an inherent bias against network management.
  • Network Neutrality defines network management as discrimination.
  • Net neutrality is not a "practical' principle; the word "reasonable" exists for a reason. 

For those who don't want to use the one-page format or link above, I have copied the full text below:

Net Neutrality vs. Reasonable Network Management   Net Neutrality has an inherent bias against network management.   

Chairman Markey's Net Neutrality Wolf in Broadband Sheep's Clothing Act

The long-awaited new Net Neutrality bill is finally coming out from House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey and Rep. Chip Pickering -- it's now called "The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008."

After reviewing the draft version circulating among the media this evening, here are my initial takeaways on the new proposed legislation.

First, the proposed legislation attempts to rebrand the controversial "net neutrality" issue as "Internet Freedom" and "broadband policy."  

  • While most all of the net neutrality buzzwords still pepper the legislation (open, discrimination, blocking, degrading, etc.) conspicuously absent from the legislation is the well-known and never fully defined "net neutrality" brand. 
  • This is odd given all the effort Markey's supporters have put into branding this issue over the last two years. 
  • It is doubtful that most people on the Hill, in industry, and in the press will stop calling it Markey's new Net Neutrality bill. 

Second, the bill's primary purpose is a bold attempt to reverse longstanding United States broadband policy by amending Title I of the 1934 Communications Act. This Markey bill would:

More perspective on US broadband/technology ranking in the world

For those trying to get an accurate handle on America's real standing in the world in broadband and technology, it is important to have multiple perpsectives in order to get the best and truest read on reality.

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Q&A One Pager Debunking Net Neutrality Myths