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NYT likes the Internet

In the wake of yesterday’s repudiatathon of the WSJ.com’s misleading, inaccurate, biased, and wrong article on Net neutrality, the NY Times weighs in with a crisp, clear, and right-headed editorial.

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8 Responses to “NYT likes the Internet”

  1. You might want to read Eric Raymond to understand why both sides are mostly wrong on network neutrality.

    You – and the Times – seem to have amazing faith in the ability of the Feds to mandate a set of regulations to achieve this. As Raymond points out:

    Your typical network-neutrality activist is a good-government left-liberal who is instinctively hostile to market-based approaches. These people think, rather, that if they can somehow come up with the right regulatory formula, they can jawbone the government into making the telcos play nice. They’re ideologically incapable of questioning the assumption that bandwidth is a scarce “public good” that has to be regulated. They don’t get it that complicated regulations favor the incumbent who can afford to darken the sky with lawyers, and they really don’t get it about outright regulatory capture, a game at which the telcos are past masters.

    Which is not to say that the telcos are free marketers; they aren’t. I think Raymond makes a good case that both the telcos and the activists are deeply wrong. Worse, the activists are unwittingly playing the telcos’ game.

  2. Re: James. While I hardly hold a brief for Eric Raymond’s many and varied points of view (always interesting, but sometimes hard to swallow), I would also emphasize that previous waves of government telco regulation over data and voice have done…nothing.

    In the late 1990s, under a regulation-favorable administration, with laws in place and an FCC and FTC allied against giant firms (supposedly) and their predatory behavior, the ILECs engaged in a massive, continuous, orchestrated (not colluded) wave of discriminatory behavior against CLECs and independent data providers, like the several national DSL firms.

    So even regulation couldn’t create competition because the giant telecoms and cable firms are far better positioned to fight the effects of regulation than the government is to enforce it, unless the government is willing to spend vast amounts on enforcements and decades-long lawsuits, by which time the point of the lawsuit is moot given that the companies involved are all bankrupt and gone except for the incumbents.

    Violating regulations has never caused telcos to blink, nor have the consequences changed their ability to make a buck and continue to discriminate.

    Thus, regulation has failed as it’s been attempted in the past.

    Establishing a means by which no large parties have chokeholds on the net, ensuring that the market wins, in that there are many different companies providing competing offerings, reducing the chance for one or two firms to dominate and set terms, is the hard part, isn’t it?

  3. Glenn,

    Yes. My point is that David’s fantasy that Federal “net neutrality” rules will help anyone other than the incumbents is laughable. He has maximum faith in technocratic rules, and doesn’t seem to grasp how easy it is for the incumbents to game those rules

  4. James, I agree with you. I would far prefer structural separation, preventing those who provide access from also selling us content and services. I would prefer once again requiring access providers to wholesale access to other ISPs. Net neutrality is weak tea compared to these changes because, yes, the telcos will do everything they can to ignore it or work around it. I do not believe that Net neutrality is the last word in what’s needed. It’s merely the first word, and we only need it because our infrastructure is so poorly structured.

    (I wrote about this 1.5 yrs ago here.)

  5. David,

    All you’re arguing for is more regulations that the telcos will continue to game, using their legions of lawyers. You completely fail to grasp the problem: you can pass whatever rules you want, but the incumbents will play fast and loose with those rules. The small entities that try to resell the lines you want to have them use will be squeezed the same way they were a decade ago, and their lawyers will be smaller and poorer than the ones the incumbents will deploy. You have way, way too much faith in technocratic rules, and way too little imagination in how the incumbents will happily make light work of them

  6. Law and regulations do sometimes have an effect. We had thousands of ISPs before the FCC decided to change the regs so that the access providers didn’t have to be wholesalers any more. So, I do have more faith than you in “technocratic rules,” i.e., in the rule of law and the possibility of governance.

  7. David,

    What companies do you suppose lobbied long and hard for that rule change? And for extra points, what companies gave tons of money to the Obama campaign specifically, and to Democrats in general?

  8. How would you suggest attaining net neutrality, or something like it, James?
    Or is your argument (or is it an observation?) one of pure fatalism?

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