Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Neutering the Net?

Holman Jenkins has a provocative op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Sept. 23, “Neutering the Net”, link here. He does make the Internet sound like a wild tomcat.

He points out that almost all big telecomm companies have built business models based on “overusing” an existing infrastructure, and gives the example of AOL with its dialup service in the 1990s, which at one time was based on time connected but still rode on the backs of customers with unlimited local phone service. Business models today, based on advertising, assume that users have relatively unlimited access to almost any lawful content. Therefore, most of the large telecomm companies, as well as much of Wall Street, are in bed with the Obama administration and the Democratic Party in supporting neutrality, using the democratizing effects of free speech and blogs like mine as examples.

The article discusses an advocacy group called “Free Press” (link)not to be confused with the well known publishing company. (By the way, Free Press has a byline “journalism is in trouble”. More about that later.) Free Press is also connected to “Save the Internet: Make net neutrality the law.”

If you search for “network neutrality” on the wsj online site, you’ll find three articles from Sept. 21, by Amy Schatz, who sees a political struggle between content infrastructure companies (like Google, MSN, Yahoo!) and actual telecomm companies (AT&T, Time Warner, Comcast), the latter of which have business models that may benefit from usage-related pricing whereas the former do not. There was “nothing neutral” about the reactions to the FCC announcement Monday.

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