Net Neutrality Makes the Evening News
Sure, we in the IP community think net neutrality is a big deal. However, yesterday net neutrality hit the big time, the evening news. Although telecommunications is a very large industry employing millions of Americans, it seldom gets front page attention, a term like “net neutrality” gets even less. Yet, yesterday, I caught it on CNN and this morning it led the list of news stories on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”. In perusing the web this morning, I caught stories on CBS News, Fox News and ABC News. Of course, the discussion has lost all elements of specificity and nuance. Net Neutrality is strictly positioned as a consumer versus the large telecom companies or as big government destroying innovation and the free marketplace. Take this position of Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, telling President Obama to leave the Internet alone, arguing that he has already nationalized healthcare, banks and student loans. Now that sure brings in other relevant subjects.
It is not surprising to see where the politicians come down on net neutrality, but it is interesting to see how they wish to communicate their concerns to the general public. Democratic Senators Waxman, Kerry and Franken applaud the efforts of the FCC and Julius Genachowski, but insist even more consumer protection is needed. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is proposing an amendment to stop the new rules in their tracks, insisting that none of the large ISPs is doing anything wrong and we should trust them to treat fairly content from other providers and maintain competitive pricing and access. Clearly as net neutrality gains more public exposure the partisan political arguments will find their usual muddy ditches of thought. That’s too bad for America and too bad for those of us in the industry.
A decision regarding what to do with the wild wild web as it moves into the age of broadband deserves a public discussion. It should not be ignored like it was in both of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses (one word in 2009 and zero in 2010). It should also not be forgotten by the media just as every other hot subject in a couple of days. Once the new rules are made public and we truly understand how the FCC wants to implement net neutrality, then the real debate should start. It should begin with regard to the specific proposed rules and how they should be applied to wireline and wireless carriers. While I think Broadvox’s VoIP communication services would be best served by the original “Third Way” proposal. That is now the “No Way” proposal. Still, we are now involved in a public debate and that is much better than the recent secret meetings the FCC held with the large carriers.
Let’s hope net neutrality makes the evening news again and soon.