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The point of broadband

David Isenberg has gathered a set of Internet architects and others around the comment (press release) sent to the FCC, reminding it that, as the government plans a national broadband strategy, the aim isn’t to deliver broadband. The aim is to deliver fast access to the Internet. Signatories include Vint Cerf, David Reed, Larry Lessig, Robin Chase…

We tend to use the terms interchangeably these days, but that’s not right. Broadband can be used to deliver many sorts of networks. Now, access providers probably wouldn’t claim it’s broadband if it were only for on-demand movies, because the public (and the government at times) has so associated “broadband” and “Internet.” But they well might deliver broadband access to something that looks like the Internet, but that filters sites or discriminates among packets based on origin or type.

The comment reminds the government that broadband is only a delivery system. The economic, social, political and cultural benefits we want to achieve come from access to the Internet. If we get the delivery system but not the Internet it was built for, the national broadband policy will have failed to achieve its aims.

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