Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Financial sector awakens to net neutrality issues

CableWhen the Harvard Business School writes its next case-study of public relations campaigns gone awry, they would do well to use the lesson of the carriers and network neutrality. For never has so much capital -- in this case, many tens of millions of dollars -- been utterly wasted through a series of outrageous PR gaffes.
  • Ed Whitacre, erstwhile Godfather CEO of SBC/AT&T, excretes a series of threats at value-creating application providers like Google and Vonage

  • Williams Smith, CTO of Bellsouth/AT&T, blathers about similar brain-damaged schemes: charging Yahoo to load faster than Google, for example. And never mind about an innovative startup with a radical new search scheme - they'll now never even get kick-started with venture money.

  • The leadership at Internet2 -- the high-speed, next-generation network backbone -- publicly worries about content-providers dealing with varying standards
Now the financial services industry -- a sleeping giant with lobbying power to spare -- has been aroused:

The U.S. financial sector, a powerful force in Washington, may be gearing up to jump into a Capitol Hill fight over the future of the Internet and stop an effort it says could add billions in costs just to maintain current offerings...

...they may wait for legislation to get to conference, where House and Senate negotiators work out differences between their bills.

In that environment of closed-door bargaining, banks and credit unions may be able to secure the Net neutrality language they seek, industry lobbyists say.

The National Association of Federal Credit Unions, America's Community Bankers, American Bankers Association and Independent Community Bankers of America, among other financial lobbyists, say they are monitoring the issue.

Bottom line: every business is at risk.

If you care about the future of the Internet, surf over to and take action. Today.

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