Joho the Blog[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part a [Benkler rocks the house] - Joho the Blog

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part a [Benkler rocks the house]

Marvin Ammori, General Counsel, Free Press, is first up on this panel. The panel is as long as a march of penguins. This is not about tech, he says. It’s about the future of the Net. Door #1: Open, fast broadband, innovative, etc. Door #2: Providers choose your sites for you [whoops, overstatement], etc. How can there even be a hearing to choose between these two doors, he asks. It’s because big companies are pushing open that door in DC.

Yochai Benkler of the Berkman Center. Two different issues. 1. Net is abut users connected to one another. 2. We need a restructuring of the basic decision to support a duopoly. [Go Yochai!]

1. The Net is about people connected to one another, at least once you stop looking throgh 20th Century business models. The carriers are based around delivering content and services. Only genuine competition will keep the Net open.

2. It was a mistake to enable the ISP consolidation. Net neutrality is important but it is only a partial solution to the failures of the market that is at beast only weakly competitive. We need to make the Net competitive all the way through.


BitTorrent brings together both points, he says. It is a decentralized structure to enable users to support one another, engage in peer collaborative. By myopia or malice, the last-mile firms are preventing competition. The way to ensure real competition is probably some form of unbundling and open access. This is a very American approach. But we abandoned them, instead handing access to two incumbent industries.

[Putting this in terms of the structural changes we need is, imo, exactly right.]

David Cohen [Tags: ]

One Response to “[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Panel 1 part a [Benkler rocks the house]”

  1. We’ve had this discussion before, I think. but I’m pleased to see the argument above. “Net neutrality is important but it is only a partial solution to the failures of the market that is at beast only weakly competitive. We need to make the Net competitive all the way through.”

    I find it deeply ironic that in a country that makes such a song and dance about free markets and free market capitalism, internet provision is a government mandated and controlled duopoly. This is anything but a free market. And in a marketplace owned and dominated by one or two incumbents, it’s completely inevitable that they will abuse their position and offer less that you thought you were going to get for more money than you thought you were going to pay.

    The solution to this is emphatically not more control over what the existing duopoly can and can’t do. It’s to break the existing control and to turn it into a real competitive (free) marketplace. There is another solution of course. And that’s the socialist route of the government owning and building the infrastructure for the good of the whole society paid for out of taxes. But I doubt the USA has the stomach for that.

    That’s the answer that is easy to say but hard to implement. And it reaches into much deeper arguments about national infrastructure and how to handle infrastructure with high capital costs and where the final branch of the tree reduces to a single provision. eg water, sewage, electricity, roads. Over the last 150 years most developed countries have built 10 or 15 of these and governments have played a major role in creating the market conditions to help build them. Now we’re facing one more which is to build very high bandwidth fibre to the home. So rather than get bogged down into whether Comcast (or BT or Deutch Telecom) should be allowed to filter packets, let’s talk about how we build a fibre infrastructure for our citizens.


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