Lessig » NetNeutrality http://www.lessig.org Blog, news, books Sat, 12 Nov 2016 16:31:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.2 More on broadband numbers http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/more-on-broadband-numbers/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/08/more-on-broadband-numbers/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2008 04:30:36 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/08/more_on_broadband_numbers.html As I said about my McCain on Technology video, the opening graph is not well defined. Others said the same thing. Neither are the data provided. If I had all the time in the world, I would correct both in the video. I don't. So here's a clarification: I am using a hybrid of the ITU data (2000-2007) and OECD data (1997-1999) in my analysis, but only the latter in the chart. You can see a spreadsheet with both here. The numbers (#5, #22) refer to the U.S. ranking for broadband penetration over that period. OECD doesn't have exactly the same analysis, but because there are relatively few countries with broadband penetration of any significance, it is easy to calculate that broadband penetration for the US goes from #2 to #22 from 1997 through 2007. The Communication Workers of America have a new site and study to bolster the embarrassing state of US broadband quality. You can download their 50 state survey here. Far as I can tell, the simplest explanation for broadband speed is this: How close are you to DC regulators. The closer you are, the better your broadband. Not a perfect predictor, but pretty good. ]]> As I said about my McCain on Technology video, the opening graph is not well defined. Others said the same thing. Neither are the data provided. If I had all the time in the world, I would correct both in the video. I don’t. So here’s a clarification:

I am using a hybrid of the ITU data (2000-2007) and OECD data (1997-1999) in my analysis, but only the latter in the chart. You can see a spreadsheet with both here. The numbers (#5, #22) refer to the U.S. ranking for broadband penetration over that period. OECD doesn’t have exactly the same analysis, but because there are relatively few countries with broadband penetration of any significance, it is easy to calculate that broadband penetration for the US goes from #2 to #22 from 1997 through 2007.

The Communication Workers of America have a new site and study to bolster the embarrassing state of US broadband quality. You can download their 50 state survey here. Far as I can tell, the simplest explanation for broadband speed is this: How close are you to DC regulators. The closer you are, the better your broadband. Not a perfect predictor, but pretty good.

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Testifying @ FCC @ Stanford http://www.lessig.org/2008/04/testifying-fcc-stanford/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/04/testifying-fcc-stanford/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2008 19:08:12 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/04/testifying_fcc_stanford.html I was asked to give some overview testimony at the FCC's "Network Neutrality" hearing at Stanford yesterday. Here's the testimony. One panelist, George Ou, was particularly exercised about what he perceived to be a policy by Free Press and EFF to push for "metered access." I don't speak for the Free Press or EFF, but my view is simply that tiered access for consumers does not violate "network neutrality" principles. Obviously I'd prefer a world of flat rate, fast service. And if we actually had any meaningful ISP competition, we might get to that. But the narrow question I've addressed here is whether it would violate neutrality principles for ISPs to offer different bandwidth commitments for different prices. I don't believe it does.]]>

I was asked to give some overview testimony at the FCC’s “Network Neutrality” hearing at Stanford yesterday. Here’s the testimony.

One panelist, George Ou, was particularly exercised about what he perceived to be a policy by Free Press and EFF to push for “metered access.” I don’t speak for the Free Press or EFF, but my view is simply that tiered access for consumers does not violate “network neutrality” principles. Obviously I’d prefer a world of flat rate, fast service. And if we actually had any meaningful ISP competition, we might get to that. But the narrow question I’ve addressed here is whether it would violate neutrality principles for ISPs to offer different bandwidth commitments for different prices. I don’t believe it does.

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The FCC @ Stanford http://www.lessig.org/2008/04/the-fcc-stanford/ http://www.lessig.org/2008/04/the-fcc-stanford/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2008 20:20:17 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2008/04/the_fcc_stanford.html here. ]]> The FCC is coming to Stanford, Thursday, April 17. Read about it here.

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Things I didn’t have time to do Monday: I: “Net Neutrality” @ five http://www.lessig.org/2007/10/things-i-didnt-have-time-to-do-1/ http://www.lessig.org/2007/10/things-i-didnt-have-time-to-do-1/#comments Wed, 03 Oct 2007 23:00:41 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2007/10/things_i_didnt_have_time_to_do_1.html for the first time heard the word "Network Neutrality." As Tim Wu has described, in the summer of 2002, he and I talked through how the campaign to support "end-to-end" neutrality might be extended. (See, e.g., "The Policy Implications of End-to-End.") He then ran with the reframing of "Network Neutrality," and thanks to his great work, and others, the idea has stuck. Lots of progress has been made on this issue in the last five years. Fantastic organizations (like Free Press's SaveTheInternet.org) have mobilized real attention to this issue. No one imagined five years ago that meme would spread so fast and so well. But I am especially happy now to have the support of AT&T and Verizon on this issue, as they're obviously now pushing to get some real Net Neutrality legislation passed in Congress soon. "What?" you ask? "AT&T and Verizon?!!! Are you nuts?" Yea, I know the conventional wisdom -- AT&T and Verizon, like all carriers, want no Net Neutrality regulation. But how else to explain the absurd gaffes of the last couple months? AT&T censoring Eddie Vedder. AT&T censoring NARAL. Verizon and AT&T have Terms of Service that permit them to censor criticism of them. Sure, these companies MAY BE extraordinarily inept. They MAY BE just tripping up all over the place. They may be simply signaling their own non-neutral position in a competitive market for networks, allowing consumers to select other networks that are more neutral. (Scratch that: I forgot. No more competition. See this fantastic graphic over at Wikipedia to get a flavor of the retrenchment that is telecom policy in America today.) So, sure. Maybe. Maybe this is just a mistake. But I don't buy it. These guys spend millions on lobbying every year. (Actually, probably every month.) How could they possible be so inept? Isn't a better interpretation of the events of the last few months that they just really want what would be good for the Net generally -- a very clear set of neutrality regulations? (And yes, of course I am.)]]> Five years ago Monday, Congress (I believe) for the first time heard the word “Network Neutrality.” As Tim Wu has described, in the summer of 2002, he and I talked through how the campaign to support “end-to-end” neutrality might be extended. (See, e.g., “The Policy Implications of End-to-End.”) He then ran with the reframing of “Network Neutrality,” and thanks to his great work, and others, the idea has stuck.

Lots of progress has been made on this issue in the last five years. Fantastic organizations (like Free Press‘s SaveTheInternet.org) have mobilized real attention to this issue. No one imagined five years ago that meme would spread so fast and so well.

But I am especially happy now to have the support of AT&T and Verizon on this issue, as they’re obviously now pushing to get some real Net Neutrality legislation passed in Congress soon.

“What?” you ask? “AT&T and Verizon?!!! Are you nuts?”

Yea, I know the conventional wisdom — AT&T and Verizon, like all carriers, want no Net Neutrality regulation. But how else to explain the absurd gaffes of the last couple months? AT&T censoring Eddie Vedder. AT&T censoring NARAL. Verizon and AT&T have Terms of Service that permit them to censor criticism of them.

Sure, these companies MAY BE extraordinarily inept. They MAY BE just tripping up all over the place. They may be simply signaling their own non-neutral position in a competitive market for networks, allowing consumers to select other networks that are more neutral. (Scratch that: I forgot. No more competition. See this fantastic graphic over at Wikipedia to get a flavor of the retrenchment that is telecom policy in America today.)

So, sure. Maybe. Maybe this is just a mistake. But I don’t buy it. These guys spend millions on lobbying every year. (Actually, probably every month.) How could they possible be so inept? Isn’t a better interpretation of the events of the last few months that they just really want what would be good for the Net generally — a very clear set of neutrality regulations?

(And yes, of course I am.)

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Jamming the Pearl http://www.lessig.org/2007/08/jamming-the-pearl/ http://www.lessig.org/2007/08/jamming-the-pearl/#comments Fri, 10 Aug 2007 15:50:29 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2007/08/jamming_the_pearl.html testified before the Senate Commerce Committee about "network neutrality." (Here's the article referenced in the testimony.) I believe it was the first time Congress heard the term "network neutrality," but the message was just a continuation of the story many of us had been pushing since circa 1998 about preserving the "end-to-end" principle on the Internet. After my testimony, an economist/lobbyist approached me and asked: "Do you really believe there is any threat that broadband network owners would discriminate in either the content they carry, or the applications they allow? After all, first, none will have enough market power to be able to do this without consequence, and second, even if they did have enough market power, what possible incentive would they have?" I remember then thinking -- this is the life of the theorist. They have a simple economic theory about how people will behave. When mixed with large lobbyist fees, it becomes impossible for them to imagine how anyone could behave inconsistent with the theory. I don't know what theory would explain the extraordinary stupidity of AT&T in censoring certain anti-Bush Pearl Jam lyrics. But the important points to remember are these:
(1) This is precisely the behavior we e2e/NetNeutrality advocates have been warning about for almost a decade. And not just (or even most importantly) in this explicit form. Much more important are the games played more subtly, to push innovation and content in the direction that benefits AT&T. (2) This is precisely the behavior cable companies have demonstrated from the beginning of cable. They live in a culture in which they own the lines, so they believe they have the absolute right to control the content/application on those lines. Whether or not that culture is harmful for cable deployment, it will be deadly for Internet innovation. (3) This is precisely the environment that raises the cost of application innovation for the cell phone industry. As many VCs have explained to me, innovating in the cell phone application space is deadly, because every innovation needs the approval of the network owner. Again, maybe Steve Jobs is right, and this kind of control is necessary for cell phones (though I don't believe it). But bringing the culture of the cell phone network to the Internet is a great way to increase profits to the network owners while reducing innovation on the Net.
This censoring event, whether AT&T's "mistake" or not, should be a rallying point for this movement. Let it be remembered a million times until we get an administration willing to do something (finally) to protect the promise of the Internet. ]]>
In October, 2002, I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee about “network neutrality.” (Here’s the article referenced in the testimony.) I believe it was the first time Congress heard the term “network neutrality,” but the message was just a continuation of the story many of us had been pushing since circa 1998 about preserving the “end-to-end” principle on the Internet.

After my testimony, an economist/lobbyist approached me and asked: “Do you really believe there is any threat that broadband network owners would discriminate in either the content they carry, or the applications they allow? After all, first, none will have enough market power to be able to do this without consequence, and second, even if they did have enough market power, what possible incentive would they have?”

I remember then thinking — this is the life of the theorist. They have a simple economic theory about how people will behave. When mixed with large lobbyist fees, it becomes impossible for them to imagine how anyone could behave inconsistent with the theory.

I don’t know what theory would explain the extraordinary stupidity of AT&T in censoring certain anti-Bush Pearl Jam lyrics.

But the important points to remember are these:

(1) This is precisely the behavior we e2e/NetNeutrality advocates have been warning about for almost a decade. And not just (or even most importantly) in this explicit form. Much more important are the games played more subtly, to push innovation and content in the direction that benefits AT&T.

(2) This is precisely the behavior cable companies have demonstrated from the beginning of cable. They live in a culture in which they own the lines, so they believe they have the absolute right to control the content/application on those lines. Whether or not that culture is harmful for cable deployment, it will be deadly for Internet innovation.

(3) This is precisely the environment that raises the cost of application innovation for the cell phone industry. As many VCs have explained to me, innovating in the cell phone application space is deadly, because every innovation needs the approval of the network owner. Again, maybe Steve Jobs is right, and this kind of control is necessary for cell phones (though I don’t believe it). But bringing the culture of the cell phone network to the Internet is a great way to increase profits to the network owners while reducing innovation on the Net.

This censoring event, whether AT&T’s “mistake” or not, should be a rallying point for this movement. Let it be remembered a million times until we get an administration willing to do something (finally) to protect the promise of the Internet.

]]>
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Wow http://www.lessig.org/2007/02/wow-1/ http://www.lessig.org/2007/02/wow-1/#comments Fri, 23 Feb 2007 13:42:38 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2007/02/wow_1.html preserving the end-to-end character of the Internet." Then Tim Wu renamed the debate "network neutrality." And now media as cool as this:

Save the Internet | Rock the Vote
Found at foureyedmonsters.com. Pointed to it by B. Andy (thanks!).]]>
In the old days, we used to call this “preserving the end-to-end character of the Internet.” Then Tim Wu renamed the debate “network neutrality.” And now media as cool as this:

Save the Internet | Rock the Vote

Found at foureyedmonsters.com. Pointed to it by B. Andy (thanks!).

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one of Orlowski’s best http://www.lessig.org/2007/01/one-of-orlowskis-best/ http://www.lessig.org/2007/01/one-of-orlowskis-best/#comments Fri, 12 Jan 2007 03:14:15 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2007/01/one_of_orlowskis_best.html How AT&T Chewed up and Spat Out "Net Neutrality"]]> How AT&T Chewed up and Spat Out “Net Neutrality”

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something new in the Net Neutrality debate http://www.lessig.org/2006/11/something-new-in-the-net-neutr/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/11/something-new-in-the-net-neutr/#comments Sun, 19 Nov 2006 06:21:20 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/11/something_new_in_the_net_neutr.html great analysis by sourcing advisors RampRate about the effect of losing Net Neutrality on a critical and growing industry -- online gaming (and not gambling). You can comment on the analysis here.]]> This is a great analysis by sourcing advisors RampRate about the effect of losing Net Neutrality on a critical and growing industry — online gaming (and not gambling). You can comment on the analysis here.

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21st Century Reaganomics: Helping the “merely rich” so as to help the really poor http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/21st-century-reaganomics-helpi/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/21st-century-reaganomics-helpi/#comments Mon, 23 Oct 2006 05:44:08 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/10/21st_century_reaganomics_helpi.html op-ed in the New York Times Saturday. The main point of the piece is to lament the truly awful state of broadband access for the poor in the United States. One statistic (not mentioned by Kennard) says it all: As the OECD reported, the United States has the 4th highest level of students (by 15 years old) who have never used a computer -- worse than Greece, Poland, Portugal, and the Czech Republic. What I found extraordinary about the piece, however, was its slam of "network neutrality" legislation. As he wrote:
Unfortunately, the current debate in Washington is over “net neutrality” — that is, should network providers be able to charge some companies special fees for faster bandwidth. This is essentially a battle between the extremely wealthy (Google, Amazon and other high-tech giants, which oppose such a move) and the merely rich (the telephone and cable industries). In the past year, collectively they have spent $50 million on lobbying and advertising, effectively preventing Congress and the public from dealing with more pressing issues.
So let's get this straight: After 8 years of deregulating broadband in America (begun by Kennard, completed by Martin), both DSL and cable are free of any real obligation to protect the original neutrality of the Internet. Once some rules imposed in merger agreements expire, last-mile broadband providers will be free to pick and choose the content and applications they want the network to carry. They will use this power, as at&t Chairman Ed Whitacre explained, to tax the most successful content and application providers on the net. That tax, as I and many have argued, will effectively block the next generation greats. Over these same 8 years, following this policy of deregulation, we've gone from 1st in the world to rivaling, as Kennard puts it, Slovenia. Broadband on average is slower in the US, and more expensive. In France, a triple play "Internet, Telephone, and TV" package is $32. Comcast offers less for $150. At some point, you might think some would begin to worry about whether the US strategy makes sense. (compare: State of Denial). Forget the theory, forget the hand-waiving by academics and ideologues: Just ask one simple question -- is the policy working as well as the (different) policies of our competitors? I. and many, have concluded it is not. I take it, that is the view of the more than a million who have written to policy-makers arguing for network neutrality legislation. These people want policy that will finally push broadband providers to provide at least the quality and price of broadband in France. The online campaign to get Congress to do something here has been amazing, rivaling only the campaign to stop the FCC from passing rules that would permit even more concentration in media ownership. But now comes Kennard to belittle this extraordinary online movement. It's not a battle, he tells us, about whether competition in applications and content, ultimately driving penetration, will continue. It is instead a battle about whether the "extremely rich" will prevail over the "merely rich." Nothing important in that battle, he tells us (except perhaps to these various flavors of the rich); Congress should therefore move on from this agenda for billionaires, and take up the real challenge of serving the poor. It's funny, I hadn't realized I was a Google tool. I had thought we were pushing to reverse a failed policy because we wanted to enable the next Google (that was my point about YouTube). I thought we were angry because the "merely rich" had yet to provide broadband as broadly as in other comparable nations. And I thought we were fighting the efforts of the "merely rich" to further reduce competition, either by buying up spectrum that would enable real wireless competition, or by getting state laws passed to make muni-competition illegal. I had thought these were important issues for the new economy -- keeping the platform as competitive as possible, to keep prices and quality moving in the direction they move in the rest of the developed world. Now that Kennard has set us straight, however, I'm relieved to know we can finally move onto other, more important issues. Global warming is at the top of my list. Maybe you have other priorities. But before we move on, let's not forget: Even if America's broadband strategy doesn't make sense for America, it makes lots of sense for certain companies. Kennard knows this well, because he sits on the board of many of those who benefit most from this deregulation. His op-ed acknowledges his work with the Carlyle Group. He is also on the board of Sprint Nextel Corporation, Hawaiian Telcom and Insight Communications (a cable provider). These companies will benefit directly if Kennard succeeds in getting Congress to forget Network Neutrality. They will become "merely richer" at the expense, I believe, not of Google or eBay, but of the next gang of kids with the next great idea that Google, and eBay (and Comcast and at&t) just don't get. I don't know Kennard personally. People who do tell me he's an extremely bright, ethical man. I'm sure that's right. But there's something unseemly to me when an FCC Chairman moves to the boards of the companies he used to regulate, and then uses the op-ed page of a paper on whose board he now sits, to argue for the poor by pushing the agenda of the "merely rich." (How can a paper that obsesses to pretend its most brilliant writers have no opinion of their own not wonder about the weirdness here?) They say Washington has to be like this. You could never get great people into government if they couldn't cash-out once they left. But I bet if the next President demanded of nominees to the FCC that they promise not to take jobs in the industries they regulated for some "limited time" (let's say, the life of a copyright), the President would find lots of qualified nominees. Maybe then it would be easier to hear the pleas for the poor, without the echo of the interests of the "merely rich" confusing the message.]]>
Former FCC Chairman William Kennard published an op-ed in the New York Times Saturday. The main point of the piece is to lament the truly awful state of broadband access for the poor in the United States. One statistic (not mentioned by Kennard) says it all: As the OECD reported, the United States has the 4th highest level of students (by 15 years old) who have never used a computer — worse than Greece, Poland, Portugal, and the Czech Republic.

What I found extraordinary about the piece, however, was its slam of “network neutrality” legislation. As he wrote:

Unfortunately, the current debate in Washington is over “net neutrality” — that is, should network providers be able to charge some companies special fees for faster bandwidth. This is essentially a battle between the extremely wealthy (Google, Amazon and other high-tech giants, which oppose such a move) and the merely rich (the telephone and cable industries). In the past year, collectively they have spent $50 million on lobbying and advertising, effectively preventing Congress and the public from dealing with more pressing issues.

So let’s get this straight:

After 8 years of deregulating broadband in America (begun by Kennard, completed by Martin), both DSL and cable are free of any real obligation to protect the original neutrality of the Internet. Once some rules imposed in merger agreements expire, last-mile broadband providers will be free to pick and choose the content and applications they want the network to carry. They will use this power, as at&t Chairman Ed Whitacre explained, to tax the most successful content and application providers on the net. That tax, as I and many have argued, will effectively block the next generation greats.

Over these same 8 years, following this policy of deregulation, we’ve gone from 1st in the world to rivaling, as Kennard puts it, Slovenia. Broadband on average is slower in the US, and more expensive. In France, a triple play “Internet, Telephone, and TV” package is $32. Comcast offers less for $150.

At some point, you might think some would begin to worry about whether the US strategy makes sense. (compare: State of Denial). Forget the theory, forget the hand-waiving by academics and ideologues: Just ask one simple question — is the policy working as well as the (different) policies of our competitors?

I. and many, have concluded it is not. I take it, that is the view of the more than a million who have written to policy-makers arguing for network neutrality legislation. These people want policy that will finally push broadband providers to provide at least the quality and price of broadband in France. The online campaign to get Congress to do something here has been amazing, rivaling only the campaign to stop the FCC from passing rules that would permit even more concentration in media ownership.

But now comes Kennard to belittle this extraordinary online movement. It’s not a battle, he tells us, about whether competition in applications and content, ultimately driving penetration, will continue. It is instead a battle about whether the “extremely rich” will prevail over the “merely rich.” Nothing important in that battle, he tells us (except perhaps to these various flavors of the rich); Congress should therefore move on from this agenda for billionaires, and take up the real challenge of serving the poor.

It’s funny, I hadn’t realized I was a Google tool. I had thought we were pushing to reverse a failed policy because we wanted to enable the next Google (that was my point about YouTube). I thought we were angry because the “merely rich” had yet to provide broadband as broadly as in other comparable nations. And I thought we were fighting the efforts of the “merely rich” to further reduce competition, either by buying up spectrum that would enable real wireless competition, or by getting state laws passed to make muni-competition illegal. I had thought these were important issues for the new economy — keeping the platform as competitive as possible, to keep prices and quality moving in the direction they move in the rest of the developed world.

Now that Kennard has set us straight, however, I’m relieved to know we can finally move onto other, more important issues. Global warming is at the top of my list. Maybe you have other priorities.

But before we move on, let’s not forget:

Even if America’s broadband strategy doesn’t make sense for America, it makes lots of sense for certain companies. Kennard knows this well, because he sits on the board of many of those who benefit most from this deregulation. His op-ed acknowledges his work with the Carlyle Group. He is also on the board of Sprint Nextel Corporation, Hawaiian Telcom and Insight Communications (a cable provider). These companies will benefit directly if Kennard succeeds in getting Congress to forget Network Neutrality. They will become “merely richer” at the expense, I believe, not of Google or eBay, but of the next gang of kids with the next great idea that Google, and eBay (and Comcast and at&t) just don’t get.

I don’t know Kennard personally. People who do tell me he’s an extremely bright, ethical man. I’m sure that’s right. But there’s something unseemly to me when an FCC Chairman moves to the boards of the companies he used to regulate, and then uses the op-ed page of a paper on whose board he now sits, to argue for the poor by pushing the agenda of the “merely rich.” (How can a paper that obsesses to pretend its most brilliant writers have no opinion of their own not wonder about the weirdness here?)

They say Washington has to be like this. You could never get great people into government if they couldn’t cash-out once they left. But I bet if the next President demanded of nominees to the FCC that they promise not to take jobs in the industries they regulated for some “limited time” (let’s say, the life of a copyright), the President would find lots of qualified nominees. Maybe then it would be easier to hear the pleas for the poor, without the echo of the interests of the “merely rich” confusing the message.

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another good NN meme http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/another-good-nn-meme/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/another-good-nn-meme/#comments Sun, 22 Oct 2006 04:36:52 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/10/another_good_nn_meme.html BrianWill has a nice post about the electricity analogy in the Network Neutrality debate. The meme: "what the telecoms are threatening to do is to charge a premium for how the utility is used, not for how much of it is used."]]> BrianWill has a nice post about the electricity analogy in the Network Neutrality debate. The meme: “what the telecoms are threatening to do is to charge a premium for how the utility is used, not for how much of it is used.”

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so he’s got “fast and loose with the facts” on his mind, does he? http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/so-hes-got-fast-and-loose-with/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/so-hes-got-fast-and-loose-with/#comments Sat, 21 Oct 2006 02:36:30 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/10/so_hes_got_fast_and_loose_with.html HOTI points to Scott Cleland of the respected "The Precursor Blog" who has posted a reply to my FT article. My "thin rule," Cleland says, is just "thin gruel" (by which I take it he means he doesn't like my rule; I personally find the best gruel to be thin gruel, and in fact, in the increasingly cold Berlin mornings, I think gruel is a very good start to the day. I wish people would stop picking on gruel, thin or fat.) The thrust of Cleland's one pager is that I've been "loose with the facts." Let's review the charges: (Cleland's words are bolded below):
Loose Fact #1: Lessig asserts: "In the U.S. at least, broadband competition is dying." Anybody who cares to check, will find that broadband prices are falling, broadband speeds are increasing, consumer choices are increasing steadily, broadband investment and deployment are strong, and innovation is vibrant. This is Dick Cheney on the war. (Indeed, let's give it a name: to Chenify): Put the prices issue aside till the next sentence: Are you kidding, Scott? Relative to every nation who should be considered to be competitive to us in this, we are worse off today than we were four years ago. When Bush said "10th is 10 spots too low" he was right (well, sort of. It's actually 9 spots too low), and yet now the US is 16th in broadband deployment. The worse things go, the more a certain set simply denies reality. Why can't an anti-neutrality advocate begin with what everyone knows is true: US broadband sucks -- it is too slow, it is too expensive, and it is too unavailable. The only question is what we are going to do about it. For those who care to go more in depth on this subject, I have produced two useful one pagers to prove this point: "Debunking the Broadband Market Failure Myth" and "Debunking the Broadband Competition Can't Work Myth." So here's where I was worried. Though this is an issue I've been studying "in depth," I hadn't read Cleland's "one-pagers" before. (I hate the word "debunking". Sounds way too Marxist for my taste). So I took a deep breath and clicked on the one pagers, expecting to find a refutation of the data upon which I had based my understanding that in fact, prices have not fallen. That data, again summarized well in Broadband Reality Check, suggests that first, cable prices have increased slightly, and second, while NOMINAL DSL prices have fallen, the $/MB has gone up, since the speed of the offering for the cheapy deals is significantly slower. Here's Cleland's "debunking":
Real DSL prices have fallen ~50% as speeds have roughly doubled over the last 2 years; introductory DSL prices have fallen ~70%in ~3 years; average monthly DSL prices fell ~15% from 2004-2005.
Every fact stated here could be consistent with the conclusion that the $/MB has gone up. (Well, almost: You'd have to be a bit charitable in interpreting "as speeds have roughly doubled over the last 2 years" -- that's plainly not true, as the "introductory" packages he points to offer less than 1 MB speeds). So where's the beef, Scott? Where is the data to debunk "Broadband Reality Check"? I'd be happy (in the academic sense of that term) to be proven wrong about relying upon the data I relied upon. I'd be even really happy to learn that average $/MB prices for DSL have gone down. But notice the critical fact Cleland didn't try to "debunk": That prices in the US range from 6x (France) to 12x (Japan) the $/MB of the US. But don't worry, every-thing's great. The war's great. Broadband in the US is great. The deficit is great. It's just the best of all possible worlds... For those who want to get the FCC's analysis of broadband competition click here; or for the FCC's analysis of Wireless competition click here. I love the way anti-regulation types hate everything the government does, except data that supports their argument. Talk about "debunking": The FCC's analysis has been the subject of extensive criticism, including by the GAO. The problem is the FCC's method for counting penetration with in a zip-code: They conclude that if 1 person within the zipcode has a broadband choice, the whole zip-code has broadband choice. As the GAO concluded about this obvious fudge: "the number of providers reported in the ZIP code overstates the level of competition to individual households." For those who don't want to be bothered with facts and analysis, but just want anti-business assertions about what imminent peril our way of life faces from continued free and open competition on the Internet click here for SavetheInternet.com, of which Professor Lessig is a Charter Member. This is the part of this debate that drives me nuts: As if this is a battle between "anti-business" sorts, and pro-business sorts. I understand how it's easy to believe that if you spend your life thinking about other things, and spend 30 seconds thinking about this issue. But for anyone inside this debate, this claim is the most bogus sort of rhetoric there is. This is not a pro vs. anti-business debate at all. The whole point of the Network Neutrality argument I've advanced (for almost 8 years now) is about what conditions produce the greatest growth in applications and content. The aim is to maximize wealth for the economy as a whole, and not just for the network owners. The whole argument is that a neutral network incentivizes more competition in applications and content than a network controlled by network owners. Think the cell phone network vs the Internet: This is not a battle between pro and anti-business sorts, it is a battle between cell-heads and net-heads. There are those who continue to function normally in the world who believe, all facts to the contrary, that this is a debate about regulation vs. no regulation. I've spilled too many bits over that canard to believe wasting more space here makes any sense. But I wish those anti-regulation sorts would spend some of their effort getting the FCC out of the business of regulating (through property) spectrum. Loose Fact #2 Professor Lessig asserts: "There are fewer competitors offering broadband connectivity today than there were just six years ago. The median consumer has a choice between just two broadband providers. Four companies account for a majority of all consumer broadband; 10 companies account for 83 percent of the market." What Professor Lessig fails to explain was that six years ago we basically had NO broadband competition, because we had a de facto monopoly for wholesale Internet access called dialup, which had lots of resellers of the underlying monopoly service, which Mr. Lessig likes to call competitors. Yea, I'm old enough to remember those days. Many many businesses would try to get me to switch to their service by offering me lower prices and higher quality. I confess, I call that competition. But whatever you call it, we need more of it today. Over the last six plus years, the free and open Internet that has been unfettered by regulation has created a steady increase in real inter-modal broadband competitors/choices for consumers. What Mr. Lessig really laments is the decrease in the faux/artificial regulatory-favored Internet Access resellers that basically competed on brand; and the increase in REAL inter-modal competitors that can truly compete on price, speed, innovative features, and mobility among other differentiators that consumers value about competition. What I "lament" is that the speed of broadband sucks in the US, and the prices are too high. Again, if the policies of the last 6 years had really produced the kind of prices and quality that other competitive nations around the world have, I'd be the first to admit I was wrong. But if you turn off the Cheney channel, and looks at the sorry (and increasingly sorry) state of broadband in the US, at some point someone has got to ask whether this policy is a mistake? Call me a cut-and-runner, Scott. Because I definitely want to cut-and-run from the FCC's policy. What Mr. Lessig conveniently omits from his assertion that "broadband competition is dying" is the pesky little truth that real broadband prices have fallen by over half over the last three years and that competitive supply is vibrantly increasing. But then again, there's the problem of those "pesky" data necessary to support the ultimate claim that needs to be made: That the DSL $/MB have fallen "by 50%." Show me the data, Scott, not the made-for-TV-soundbites. Maybe Professor Lessig should take some more classes in economics and antitrust to bone up on the fact that competitiveness of markets are truly measured by effective pricing, by the trend of competitive entry and by the amount of innovation. Only undergrad courses covering antitrust would consider it sufficient to count the number of competitors in a market and then declare a market not competitive. Responsible scholars of competition understand that the competitive facts can vary widely in various markets, and that the number of competitors alone is insufficient data to determine the competiveness of a market. I am sure there are any number of attorneys with "real world" experience in analyzing competition at the DOJ Antitrust Division or at the FTC who would be happy to give Professor Lessig a little tutorial on this before he opines on this topic again on the world stage. This is no doubt true. A submission to the FCC or to a court about market power with the substance of an 800 word op-ed would be absurd. And indeed, to show fully whether competition is improving or getting worse, you would need to go much more "in depth" than even Cleland's nippy one-pagers. But really, Scott. This is an op-ed. They don't allow footnotes. Loose Fact #3: Lessig said: "Network owners now want to change this by charging companies different rates to get access to a 'premium Internet.'" [bold added for emphasis] This is the way the Internet has operated since it was commercialized in 1995. There have long been been three Internet backbone tiers of service. And companies have long paid for a "premium" Internet since they upgraded from dialup to broadband! So at a debate with George Gilder, Peter Huber made this same move. Look, no one is arguing about the backbone. No one is arguing for regulation of the backbone. This is a debate about last mile broadband, and the effect certain business models for the last mile will have on competition. What planet has Mr. Lessig been on that he didn't notice that companies pay for a "premium" Internet every day? Has he ever heard of the Akamai "premium" service which has been used by most all the biggest online companies to get "premium" Internet service? And of course this is exactly the criticism I was trying to preempt by my original post on this matter. Obviously, companies do whatever they can to make their content on the net run well as it can. Google must spend millions around the world on caching servers. Everyone spends what they can to get the fastest servers they can. But again, this is exactly the sort of competition we should celebrate -- businesses spending money to add real capacity and functionality to the network, by going to a (relatively) competitive market to add that capacity. My complaint is not against that. My complaint is about (relatively) uncompetitive markets, and about the consequence of them exercising power over the next YouTubes of the world. No doubt, as they extract rents from these businesses, they make Wall Street happier about them. But as my focus is not the net wealth of a handful of companies, but instead, the wealth of the economy as a whole, what's good for them is not the end of the matter. Indeed, this is exactly why my position on Network Neutrality is not as extreme as some. As I testified, for example, I'm all for "consumer tiering" by network providers -- where network providers offer higher quality to consumers for more money. That again is the sort of business model that creates an incentive to increase capacity. "Access tiering" doesn't. Or at least, I'm looking for the economic analysis to show it does. What I've seen so far is that in an relative uncompetitive market, "access tiering" creates an obvious (and perverse) incentive: with relatively limited competition, if you can charge a premium for a "fast internet," you don't have much incentive to make the rest of the Internet very fast at all.
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HOTI points to Scott Cleland of the respected “The Precursor Blog” who has posted a reply to my FT article. My “thin rule,” Cleland says, is just “thin gruel” (by which I take it he means he doesn’t like my rule; I personally find the best gruel to be thin gruel, and in fact, in the increasingly cold Berlin mornings, I think gruel is a very good start to the day. I wish people would stop picking on gruel, thin or fat.)

The thrust of Cleland’s one pager is that I’ve been “loose with the facts.” Let’s review the charges: (Cleland’s words are bolded below):

Loose Fact #1:

Lessig asserts: “In the U.S. at least, broadband competition is dying.”
Anybody who cares to check, will find that broadband prices are falling, broadband speeds are increasing, consumer choices are increasing steadily, broadband investment and deployment are strong, and innovation is vibrant.

This is Dick Cheney on the war. (Indeed, let’s give it a name: to Chenify): Put the prices issue aside till the next sentence: Are you kidding, Scott? Relative to every nation who should be considered to be competitive to us in this, we are worse off today than we were four years ago. When Bush said “10th is 10 spots too low” he was right (well, sort of. It’s actually 9 spots too low), and yet now the US is 16th in broadband deployment. The worse things go, the more a certain set simply denies reality.

Why can’t an anti-neutrality advocate begin with what everyone knows is true: US broadband sucks — it is too slow, it is too expensive, and it is too unavailable. The only question is what we are going to do about it.

For those who care to go more in depth on this subject, I have produced two useful one pagers to prove this point: “Debunking the Broadband Market Failure Myth” and “Debunking the Broadband Competition Can’t Work Myth.”

So here’s where I was worried. Though this is an issue I’ve been studying “in depth,” I hadn’t read Cleland’s “one-pagers” before. (I hate the word “debunking”. Sounds way too Marxist for my taste). So I took a deep breath and clicked on the one pagers, expecting to find a refutation of the data upon which I had based my understanding that in fact, prices have not fallen.

That data, again summarized well in Broadband Reality Check, suggests that first, cable prices have increased slightly, and second, while NOMINAL DSL prices have fallen, the $/MB has gone up, since the speed of the offering for the cheapy deals is significantly slower.

Here’s Cleland’s “debunking”:

Real DSL prices have fallen ~50% as speeds have roughly doubled over the last 2 years; introductory DSL prices have fallen ~70%in ~3 years; average monthly DSL prices fell ~15% from 2004-2005.

Every fact stated here could be consistent with the conclusion that the $/MB has gone up. (Well, almost: You’d have to be a bit charitable in interpreting “as speeds have roughly doubled over the last 2 years” — that’s plainly not true, as the “introductory” packages he points to offer less than 1 MB speeds). So where’s the beef, Scott? Where is the data to debunk “Broadband Reality Check”? I’d be happy (in the academic sense of that term) to be proven wrong about relying upon the data I relied upon. I’d be even really happy to learn that average $/MB prices for DSL have gone down. But notice the critical fact Cleland didn’t try to “debunk”: That prices in the US range from 6x (France) to 12x (Japan) the $/MB of the US. But don’t worry, every-thing’s great. The war’s great. Broadband in the US is great. The deficit is great. It’s just the best of all possible worlds…

For those who want to get the FCC’s analysis of broadband competition click here; or for the FCC’s analysis of Wireless competition click here.

I love the way anti-regulation types hate everything the government does, except data that supports their argument. Talk about “debunking”: The FCC’s analysis has been the subject of extensive criticism, including by the GAO. The problem is the FCC’s method for counting penetration with in a zip-code: They conclude that if 1 person within the zipcode has a broadband choice, the whole zip-code has broadband choice. As the GAO concluded about this obvious fudge: “the number of providers reported in the ZIP code overstates the level of competition to individual households.”

For those who don’t want to be bothered with facts and analysis, but just want anti-business assertions about what imminent peril our way of life faces from continued free and open competition on the Internet click here for SavetheInternet.com, of which Professor Lessig is a Charter Member.

This is the part of this debate that drives me nuts: As if this is a battle between “anti-business” sorts, and pro-business sorts. I understand how it’s easy to believe that if you spend your life thinking about other things, and spend 30 seconds thinking about this issue. But for anyone inside this debate, this claim is the most bogus sort of rhetoric there is.

This is not a pro vs. anti-business debate at all. The whole point of the Network Neutrality argument I’ve advanced (for almost 8 years now) is about what conditions produce the greatest growth in applications and content. The aim is to maximize wealth for the economy as a whole, and not just for the network owners. The whole argument is that a neutral network incentivizes more competition in applications and content than a network controlled by network owners. Think the cell phone network vs the Internet: This is not a battle between pro and anti-business sorts, it is a battle between cell-heads and net-heads.

There are those who continue to function normally in the world who believe, all facts to the contrary, that this is a debate about regulation vs. no regulation. I’ve spilled too many bits over that canard to believe wasting more space here makes any sense. But I wish those anti-regulation sorts would spend some of their effort getting the FCC out of the business of regulating (through property) spectrum.

Loose Fact #2

Professor Lessig asserts: “There are fewer competitors offering broadband connectivity today than there were just six years ago. The median consumer has a choice between just two broadband providers. Four companies account for a majority of all consumer broadband; 10 companies account for 83 percent of the market.”
What Professor Lessig fails to explain was that six years ago we basically had NO broadband competition, because we had a de facto monopoly for wholesale Internet access called dialup, which had lots of resellers of the underlying monopoly service, which Mr. Lessig likes to call competitors.

Yea, I’m old enough to remember those days. Many many businesses would try to get me to switch to their service by offering me lower prices and higher quality. I confess, I call that competition. But whatever you call it, we need more of it today.

Over the last six plus years, the free and open Internet that has been unfettered by regulation has created a steady increase in real inter-modal broadband competitors/choices for consumers.
What Mr. Lessig really laments is the decrease in the faux/artificial regulatory-favored Internet Access resellers that basically competed on brand; and the increase in REAL inter-modal competitors that can truly compete on price, speed, innovative features, and mobility among other differentiators that consumers value about competition.

What I “lament” is that the speed of broadband sucks in the US, and the prices are too high. Again, if the policies of the last 6 years had really produced the kind of prices and quality that other competitive nations around the world have, I’d be the first to admit I was wrong. But if you turn off the Cheney channel, and looks at the sorry (and increasingly sorry) state of broadband in the US, at some point someone has got to ask whether this policy is a mistake? Call me a cut-and-runner, Scott. Because I definitely want to cut-and-run from the FCC’s policy.

What Mr. Lessig conveniently omits from his assertion that “broadband competition is dying” is the pesky little truth that real broadband prices have fallen by over half over the last three years and that competitive supply is vibrantly increasing.

But then again, there’s the problem of those “pesky” data necessary to support the ultimate claim that needs to be made: That the DSL $/MB have fallen “by 50%.” Show me the data, Scott, not the made-for-TV-soundbites.

Maybe Professor Lessig should take some more classes in economics and antitrust to bone up on the fact that competitiveness of markets are truly measured by effective pricing, by the trend of competitive entry and by the amount of innovation. Only undergrad courses covering antitrust would consider it sufficient to count the number of competitors in a market and then declare a market not competitive. Responsible scholars of competition understand that the competitive facts can vary widely in various markets, and that the number of competitors alone is insufficient data to determine the competiveness of a market. I am sure there are any number of attorneys with “real world” experience in analyzing competition at the DOJ Antitrust Division or at the FTC who would be happy to give Professor Lessig a little tutorial on this before he opines on this topic again on the world stage.

This is no doubt true. A submission to the FCC or to a court about market power with the substance of an 800 word op-ed would be absurd. And indeed, to show fully whether competition is improving or getting worse, you would need to go much more “in depth” than even Cleland’s nippy one-pagers. But really, Scott. This is an op-ed. They don’t allow footnotes.

Loose Fact #3:

Lessig said: “Network owners now want to change this by charging companies different rates to get access to a ‘premium Internet.’” [bold added for emphasis]
This is the way the Internet has operated since it was commercialized in 1995. There have long been been three Internet backbone tiers of service. And companies have long paid for a “premium” Internet since they upgraded from dialup to broadband!

So at a debate with George Gilder, Peter Huber made this same move. Look, no one is arguing about the backbone. No one is arguing for regulation of the backbone. This is a debate about last mile broadband, and the effect certain business models for the last mile will have on competition.

What planet has Mr. Lessig been on that he didn’t notice that companies pay for a “premium” Internet every day? Has he ever heard of the Akamai “premium” service which has been used by most all the biggest online companies to get “premium” Internet service?

And of course this is exactly the criticism I was trying to preempt by my original post on this matter. Obviously, companies do whatever they can to make their content on the net run well as it can. Google must spend millions around the world on caching servers. Everyone spends what they can to get the fastest servers they can.

But again, this is exactly the sort of competition we should celebrate — businesses spending money to add real capacity and functionality to the network, by going to a (relatively) competitive market to add that capacity.

My complaint is not against that. My complaint is about (relatively) uncompetitive markets, and about the consequence of them exercising power over the next YouTubes of the world. No doubt, as they extract rents from these businesses, they make Wall Street happier about them. But as my focus is not the net wealth of a handful of companies, but instead, the wealth of the economy as a whole, what’s good for them is not the end of the matter.

Indeed, this is exactly why my position on Network Neutrality is not as extreme as some. As I testified, for example, I’m all for “consumer tiering” by network providers — where network providers offer higher quality to consumers for more money. That again is the sort of business model that creates an incentive to increase capacity.

“Access tiering” doesn’t. Or at least, I’m looking for the economic analysis to show it does. What I’ve seen so far is that in an relative uncompetitive market, “access tiering” creates an obvious (and perverse) incentive: with relatively limited competition, if you can charge a premium for a “fast internet,” you don’t have much incentive to make the rest of the Internet very fast at all.

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The Meaning of Network Neutrality: YouTOO could be YouTube http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/the-meaning-of-network-neutral/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/10/the-meaning-of-network-neutral/#comments Thu, 19 Oct 2006 08:58:32 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/10/the_meaning_of_network_neutral.html this piece for the FT, arguing the phenomenal success of YouTube is yet another argument for Network Neutrality. The data in the piece comes from this great report, Broadband Reality Check. One point the compactness of 800 words didn't let me make fully: Obviously, everyone spends tons of money to make their content flow more quickly than the competitor. But the question is whether the market in which they spend that money is, in a word, healthy. If there's lots of competition, then that expenditure is efficient. If there's not, then it is a barrier. Or that, at least, is the argument.]]> I wrote this piece for the FT, arguing the phenomenal success of YouTube is yet another argument for Network Neutrality. The data in the piece comes from this great report, Broadband Reality Check.

One point the compactness of 800 words didn’t let me make fully: Obviously, everyone spends tons of money to make their content flow more quickly than the competitor. But the question is whether the market in which they spend that money is, in a word, healthy. If there’s lots of competition, then that expenditure is efficient. If there’s not, then it is a barrier. Or that, at least, is the argument.

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mySpace as pamphlet http://www.lessig.org/2006/08/myspace-as-pamphlet/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/08/myspace-as-pamphlet/#comments Wed, 30 Aug 2006 12:30:01 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/08/myspace_as_pamphlet.html a great myspace page devoted to Net Neutrality issues -- including a Net Neutrality song as well.]]> Heiko has a great myspace page devoted to Net Neutrality issues — including a Net Neutrality song as well.

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The Dems get Net Neutrality http://www.lessig.org/2006/06/the-dems-get-net-neutrality/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/06/the-dems-get-net-neutrality/#comments Fri, 30 Jun 2006 12:46:02 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/06/the_dems_get_net_neutrality.html tie created in the Senate Commerce Committee (11-11) on party lines (plus the amazing Senator Snowe) seems to signal a decision by leaders of the party that this is a fight they want to lead. The slogan does have a nice right to it -- "Republicans: They sold the environment to Exxon, and sold the war to Halliburton. Now they want to sell the Internet to at&t." (yea, the new logo is no-caps. a kinder, gentler ...) In my view, this is good news and bad. Good for the Dems that they got it. Bad that the issue is now within the grips of party politics. I guess it was just a matter of time, given how much money the cable and telcos have put on the table. Here's John Kerry on the vote: (bravo, Senator):
Stopping the Big Giveaway -- by John Kerry Yesterday in the Senate Commerce Committee I warned that those of us who believe in net neutrality will block legislation that doesn't get the job done. It looks like that's the fight we're going to have. The Commerce Committee voted on net neutrality and it failed on an 11-11 tie. This vote was a gift to cable and telephone companies, and a slap in the face of every Internet user and consumer. It will not stand. I voted against this lousy bill for two reasons: because net neutrality and internet build-out are crucial to building a more modern and fair Information Society, and both were pushed aside by the Republicans. Everyone says they don't want the new world we're living in to be marked by the digital divide -- the term is so clichéd it's turned to mush -- but yesterday was a test of who is willing to ask corporate America to do anything to fix it, and the Commerce Committee failed miserably. Why are United States Senators afraid to say that companies should be expected to foster growth by building out their broadband networks to increase access? Free and open access to the internet is something all Americans should enjoy, regardless of what financial means they're born into or where they live. It is profoundly disappointing that the Senate is going let a handful of companies hold internet access hostage by legalizing the cherry-picking of cable service providers and new entrants. That is a dynamic that would leave some communities with inferior service, higher cable rates, and even the loss of service. Not to mention inadequate internet service -- in the age of the information. This bill was passed in committee over our objections. Now we need to fight to either fix it or kill it in the full Senate. Senator Wyden has already drawn a line in the sand -- putting a "hold" on the bill, which prevents it from going forward for now. But there will be a day of reckoning on this legislation soon, make no mistake about it, and we need you to get engaged -- pressure your Senators, follow the issue, demand net neutrality and build-out.
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Lots happening with Net Neutrality, most significantly that the Democrats seem to have decided that this is their issue. The extraordinary tie created in the Senate Commerce Committee (11-11) on party lines (plus the amazing Senator Snowe) seems to signal a decision by leaders of the party that this is a fight they want to lead. The slogan does have a nice right to it — “Republicans: They sold the environment to Exxon, and sold the war to Halliburton. Now they want to sell the Internet to at&t.” (yea, the new logo is no-caps. a kinder, gentler …)

In my view, this is good news and bad. Good for the Dems that they got it. Bad that the issue is now within the grips of party politics. I guess it was just a matter of time, given how much money the cable and telcos have put on the table.

Here’s John Kerry on the vote: (bravo, Senator):

Stopping the Big Giveaway — by John Kerry

Yesterday in the Senate Commerce Committee I warned that those of us who believe in net neutrality will block legislation that doesn’t get the job done.

It looks like that’s the fight we’re going to have.

The Commerce Committee voted on net neutrality and it failed on an 11-11 tie. This vote was a gift to cable and telephone companies, and a slap in the face of every Internet user and consumer. It will not stand.

I voted against this lousy bill for two reasons: because net neutrality and internet build-out are crucial to building a more modern and fair Information Society, and both were pushed aside by the Republicans.

Everyone says they don’t want the new world we’re living in to be marked by the digital divide — the term is so clichéd it’s turned to mush — but yesterday was a test of who is willing to ask corporate America to do anything to fix it, and the Commerce Committee failed miserably. Why are United States Senators afraid to say that companies should be expected to foster growth by building out their broadband networks to increase access?

Free and open access to the internet is something all Americans should enjoy, regardless of what financial means they’re born into or where they live. It is profoundly disappointing that the Senate is going let a handful of companies hold internet access hostage by legalizing the cherry-picking of cable service providers and new entrants. That is a dynamic that would leave some communities with inferior service, higher cable rates, and even the loss of service. Not to mention inadequate internet service — in the age of the information.

This bill was passed in committee over our objections. Now we need to fight to either fix it or kill it in the full Senate. Senator Wyden has already drawn a line in the sand — putting a “hold” on the bill, which prevents it from going forward for now. But there will be a day of reckoning on this legislation soon, make no mistake about it, and we need you to get engaged — pressure your Senators, follow the issue, demand net neutrality and build-out.

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Tim Berners-Lee on Net Neutrality: “This is serious” http://www.lessig.org/2006/06/tim-bernerslee-on-net-neutrali/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/06/tim-bernerslee-on-net-neutrali/#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2006 11:26:43 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/06/tim_bernerslee_on_net_neutrali.html here's a video he's now down to emphasize its importance.]]> One clue to this Net Neutrality debate is to watch what kind of souls are on each side of the debate. The pro-NN contingent is filled with the people who actually built the Net — from Vint Cerf to Google to eBay — and those who profit from the competition enabled by the Net — e.g., Microsoft. The anti-NN contingent is filled with the entities that either never got the Net, or fought like hell to control it — telecom, and cable companies. (The one clear exception to this is Dave Farber, who has been described as the “Grandfather of the Net.” I’ve never understood either what that description could mean, nor have I understood how he gets from the premises in his argument to its conclusions. But to be fair, this is an exception to the rule I’m describing.)

Here’s the latest confirmation of this pattern. Tim Berners-Lee has blogged before about this issue. But here’s a video he’s now down to emphasize its importance.

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Network Neutrality: Critical push http://www.lessig.org/2006/05/network-neutrality-critical-pu/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/05/network-neutrality-critical-pu/#comments Wed, 31 May 2006 09:56:34 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/05/network_neutrality_critical_pu.html write members of Congress to get them to support Network Neutrality legislation. (eBay's policy statement on NetNeutrality is here. ) This is a critical time. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is my favorite leader on this issue. After just barely squeezing a victory in the House Judiciary Committee last week, the press is on now for the vote on the floor. The Congress Daily (which can't be linked to) estimates about a $1 million per week is being spent on ads by telecom and cable companies to fight neutrality legislation. SaveTheInternet.com has an action site. There's another (overly fancy) site I hadn't seen before: It's Our Net. But whether you like fancy or plain, spread the word.]]> In a rare spin into politics, ebay’s Meg Whitman has written to eBay community members asking them to write members of Congress to get them to support Network Neutrality legislation. (eBay’s policy statement on NetNeutrality is here. )

This is a critical time. Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren is my favorite leader on this issue. After just barely squeezing a victory in the House Judiciary Committee last week, the press is on now for the vote on the floor. The Congress Daily (which can’t be linked to) estimates about a $1 million per week is being spent on ads by telecom and cable companies to fight neutrality legislation.

SaveTheInternet.com has an action site. There’s another (overly fancy) site I hadn’t seen before: It’s Our Net. But whether you like fancy or plain, spread the word.

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Progress on the Net Neutrality debate http://www.lessig.org/2006/05/progress-on-the-net-neutrality/ http://www.lessig.org/2006/05/progress-on-the-net-neutrality/#comments Thu, 18 May 2006 13:10:03 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2006/05/progress_on_the_net_neutrality.html by announcing their support for Net Neutrality principles. Also, PublicKnowledge has a great PSA on the issue.]]> There has been good progress in the Net Neutrality debate. Critical to this debate is that it not become a left/right issue — because however much we on the left push it, it is not properly seen as a left/right issue. The Christian Coalition has now helped by announcing their support for Net Neutrality principles.

Also, PublicKnowledge has a great PSA on the issue.

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Wire-tapping VoIP http://www.lessig.org/2004/08/wiretapping-voip/ http://www.lessig.org/2004/08/wiretapping-voip/#comments Wed, 04 Aug 2004 19:36:06 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2004/08/wiretapping_voip.html The FCC today tenatively concluded that most Voice-over IP providers will likely have to comply with a major federal wiretapping statute, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). This means companies like Vonage will probably soon have to provide law enforcement with some way to tap their service.

I don’t consider the vote particularly surprising — VoIP phones look like telephones, and who’s going to vote against national security? But I nonetheless think the approach unfortunate.

Here’s why. VoIP, despite the incessant hype, is still a baby. There has still been more said about VoIP than actually using VoIP. Yet this infant has already attracted more regulatory attention than many grown-up technologies. That kind of attention is not a good thing for a youngster: too much light makes the baby go blind. Its a bad thing to have startups spending their time thinking about regulatory compliance instead of better service. Having the the FCC and Congress as foster-parents is at best like being a child-star and at worst like being raised by alcoholics. Either way, stunted growth is a likely outcome.

I think the FCC and Congress do better to regulate what actually exists, not what is supposedly “on its way.” Just think “Digital Television.”

For people who are really into this stuff, a few more notes. The FCC’s NPRM is not yet available, but we learn about it from the various statements, in particularly Chairmain Powell’s.

Two bits of what might be taken as good news for VoIP providers. First, the NPRM interestingly seems to leave both instant messaging and “disintermediated” or “unmanaged” VoIP outside of CALEA. That strikes me as good news, and a sign that that the rule-making will leave definite room for unfettered innovation in at least some areas.

Second, there’s hard statutory question, as noted by Commissioner Copps: whether VoIP is really “a replacement for a substantial portion of the local telephone exchange,” as opposed to mainly an “information service.” (The statute exempts information services from CALEA). The point is, VoIP could be a “substantial replacement” someday, but it certainly isn’t yet. Hence the silver lining for VoIP companies may be a serious risk of the rules being struck down. something Commissioner Abernathy freely admits.

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ways to undo the 9th circuit http://www.lessig.org/2003/10/ways-to-undo-the-9th-circuit/ http://www.lessig.org/2003/10/ways-to-undo-the-9th-circuit/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2003 14:33:02 +0000 http://lessig.org/blog/2003/10/ways_to_undo_the_9th_circuit.html decided that the FCC was wrong in classifying a "cable modem service" as an "information service," and thus exempting it from any common-carrier-like obligations. This is a very important decision in the ongoing battles about preserving end-to-end neutrality on the Net. But meanwhile, there's a very tricky game being played with the Internet Tax Freedom Act which might make the whole 9th Circuit issue moot. Someone has slipped a nice little change into that statute that potentially could exempt any broadband service from any common carrier obligations. The legislative history is being puffed up to say this won't be the effect. But the language of the change has many concerned (and no doubt some filled with glee) that this fundamental policy issue will be decided by a slip of the hand in a totally unrelated bill. As one critic writes,
If Congress adopts the bill in its current form and it becomes law, it will be cited as "evidence" that it was Congress' intent to treat the transmission services used to provide Internet access differently than those transmission services not used for Internet access, and more precisely that Congress intends the underlying transmission service to be treated the same as the Internet access service. (not subject to Title II in the DSL and cable modem proceedings) Moreover, it will be used to argue that Congress supports the FCC's revisionist "telecommunications is subsumed into information services" approach that serves as the basis of the FCC's cable modem and wireline DSL proceedings.
The bills are HR 49 and S 150.]]>
On Monday, the 9th Circuit decided that the FCC was wrong in classifying a “cable modem service” as an “information service,” and thus exempting it from any common-carrier-like obligations. This is a very important decision in the ongoing battles about preserving end-to-end neutrality on the Net.

But meanwhile, there’s a very tricky game being played with the Internet Tax Freedom Act which might make the whole 9th Circuit issue moot. Someone has slipped a nice little change into that statute that potentially could exempt any broadband service from any common carrier obligations. The legislative history is being puffed up to say this won’t be the effect. But the language of the change has many concerned (and no doubt some filled with glee) that this fundamental policy issue will be decided by a slip of the hand in a totally unrelated bill. As one critic writes,

If Congress adopts the bill in its current form and it becomes law, it will be cited as “evidence” that it was Congress’ intent to treat the transmission services used to provide Internet access differently than those transmission services not used for Internet access, and more precisely that Congress intends the underlying transmission service to be treated the same as the Internet access service. (not subject to Title II in the DSL and cable modem proceedings) Moreover, it will be used to argue that Congress supports the FCC’s revisionist “telecommunications is subsumed into information services” approach that serves as the basis of the FCC’s cable modem and wireline DSL proceedings.

The bills are HR 49 and S 150.

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