Point of no Return

Industry Veteran Carol Wilson writes for Telephony Magazine and did such an amazing job with this article I had to pass it on. Nice job Carol!


Point of no return
By Carol Wilson

The two-day Freedom to Connect event going on in Washington D.C. this week is no doubt producing hours of impassioned pleas for government action on Net neutrality. There’s nothing wrong with that–most of the speakers are bright, well-informed and highly credentialed individuals.

It’s not their politics I have problems with, but their passion. The Net neutrality debate gets so out of hand at times that the rhetoric obscures the facts.

That’s why I found David Farber’s comments on the topic so refreshing. Farber has Internet credentials that rival that of Vinton Cerf, someone often quoted for his support of Net neutrality legislation. His early work on distributed computing and in setting up networks for NASA and others was a precursor to the Internet we know today. A long and distinguished academic career at the University of Pennsylvania included a one-year stint as chief technologist at the FCC.

Farber does see a problem–he believes the Internet is "getting old," and sees the need for new functionality, especially to handle new services such as video. But he sees a bigger problem in inviting government regulation of this complex technological creature and is urging people to step back from the emotionally charged debate that rages today to ponder a more rational approach.

One of my real concerns is that so many people have gone so far in pushing the Net neutrality issue and in championing its cause in Washington that we may be at a point of no return on compromise. That could be bad news for those convinced the Internet faces a looming problem that can only be addressed by further investment.

Those who would do that investment–the telcos and cable companies–are making very calm, rational statements in defense of their resistance to government interference in the Internet. In the absence of the kind of discussion that Farber proposes, the lobbying forces of the service providers could likely derail any effort to impose further Net neutrality requirements.

That would leave an aging Internet right where it is today. And if a man smart enough to have helped invent the original is concerned about its viability now, so am I.

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