Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Net Neutrality: the Wireless Business is Berry, Berry Good

Over at NewsForge, James Glass offers a remarkable insight that is a powerful argument for net neutrality:

...It turns out that we have a privately owned and controlled network all around us, one that closely mirrors the technical functionality of the Internet, but where there has never been a requirement for net neutrality: the US cellular phone network.

Almost all cell phones sold in the developed world have the ability to send and receive SMS (short message service) text messages. SMS is gaining popularity in the US, but only as a way to send quick messages to friends. So why aren't there a wealth of amazing and interactive services available for mobile devices? Why is there no MySpace, Craigslist, Amazon, Flikr, or eBay accessible through this network? Why are cell phone payment systems and email systems nearly nonexistent? Why haven't charities raised money or awareness of their causes through this system?

It's simple. Because the cell phone carriers control what services are allowed to use their networks. There is no net neutrality on the cell phone network...

Preee-cisely. And that’s what the future holds for the American Internet should the cable/telco duopoly get its way. Heaven knows, they've certainly spent enough:

...According to Campaign Media Analysis Group, [the carriers] have spent up to $45 million to buy anti-Net Neutrality ads nationwide. A report by Bloomberg News, estimates an additional $50 million spent on telco and cable lobbyists. Add to this tally the millons in campaign contributions made by anti-Neutrality companies like AT&T, Verizon, BellSouth, Cisco, Comcast and Time Warner.

On the other hand, the many groups that constitute the SavetheInternet coalition have spent less than $200,000 in our grassroots campaign to support Net Neutrality... That means that for every $1 spent by the grassroots to defend Net Neutrality, the phone and cable companies have spent approximately $500 to drown it...

Remarkable! These blokes have spent nine figures and they still haven't gotten their way. Appears their oft-revised business plans have to get pitched into the fireplace again. This is fun. Let's continue to make 'em bleed their wallets dry.

You know, if their plans go any further off course, the telcos will be looking at leveraged buy-outs of the hub-cap industry soon. I almost feel sorry for them. That is, if I could muster sympathy for has-been monopolists who haven't demonstrated a scintilla of Internet innovation apart from inventing new forms of lobbying.

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