Thursday, June 01, 2006

Net Neutrality All-Star: Susan Crawford

The blog over at Susan Crawford's site has some must-read material. Crawford is Assistant Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School, teaching cyberlaw and intellectual property law. Here's an excerpt from her answers to five frequently-asked net neutrality questions:

Q: The cable and telephone companies argue that they need additional revenue to build 'the internet of the future' and so the Googles and Amazons of the world (who will benefit from that new internet) need to pay their fair share. Is that a legitimate argument?

A: What they mean by 'the internet of the future' is a cable system -- not the internet. They'll be using their market power over broadband access to force us all to accept their cable-ized version of 'the internet' and to force nascent Googles to pay protection money. Those nascent Googles may never come into being -- so net neutrality is a right-to-life movement for new technology.

These incumbents don't have competition. We have no real information about their costs or how their networks work. We're having this argument about "need for additional revenue" in the dark. They've been promising to build broadband networks for a long time, and we're falling behind as a country.

We know from Japan that competition for broadband access (lower prices, higher speeds) comes when you force the incumbent to "unbundle" (let competitors use its facilities on nondiscriminatory terms). That's the real 'internet of the future.'

Read the whole thing

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