Friday, July 13, 2007

Join the fight for wireless freedom

All seven of my regular readers know that I almost always favor conservative values: strong national defense, fiscal frugality, and economic liberty -- not subsidies. You'll probably be shocked, then, to know that on certain topics I side with more liberal values. One is the concept of network neutrality.

Our country's current telecom infrastructure -- now dominated by essentially two gigantic companies (AT&T and Verizon) -- is broken. And I'll provide some examples why I'm certain this is the case.

The Internet, by its very nature, provides a level playing field for content providers. You'll hear this equality called network neutrality. What it means is that a guy sitting in a dorm room can invent the next great application -- think Digg, YouTube, and Facebook. The fabric of the Internet, a protocol known as TCP/IP, ensures that wealthy content providers can't be favored over poor ones. Net neutrality ensures the level playing field that results in a steady stream of innovation, unconstrained by immense corporate gatekeepers.

The result of TCP/IP-enforced network neutrality is unprecedented value creation. The aggregate market capitalization of the companies launched under the aegis of the Internet may be approaching a trillion dollars.

Now consider U.S. wireless networks. While the Internet is a hotbed of innovation, the wireless nets are exactly the opposite. They are locked -- tight as a drum. Want some ringtones? Go to your carrier and pay. Streaming video clips? Pay your carrier. Sick of your carrier and want to switch? In most cases, you'll pay a hefty termination fee. And if you own an iPhone, you're out of luck. iPhones are locked to AT&T, with some onerous conditions, and no chance of switching to a more competitive plan.

Free the iPhone.

It's time that Americans rise up against what is effectively a reconstituted telecom monopoly and demand an open wireless landscape.

The last innovation from the telephone monopoly may have been the Princess Phone. It's time we forced them to compete. It's good for consumers, it's good for the phone companies, it's good for the stock market, and it's good for America.

Go to Free the iPhone and take action.

No comments: