Protect Net Freedom and Consumer Empowerment
On of Jeff Pulver’s latest call to arms is to protect Net Freedom and Consumer Empowerment. I’m certainly for that. Maybe my pulpit isn’t as loud as Jeff’s (or some of the people he mentions), but I can certainly do my part as well. Aswath’s speech in the style of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech is spot on about how I feel about the whole thing.
The problem with today’s telecommunications market, which includes both voice and data, is that the “owners” of the pipes can also provide content. Since these owners have plenty of motiviation to favor their own content over others–it’s human nature to favor yourself or products of yourself over others–there’s little to stop the pipe owners from imposing their own will over what can and cannot pass over their pipes. There have certainly been a couple of publicized examples of this with Vonage recently, and I’m sure there are plenty more examples if I dare to look for them.
My solution to this problem is simple: the people who own and operate the pipes should be forbidden from providing content that flows over the pipes as well as forbidden to filter any content that flows through their network. This means both the Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and the Cable Companies would essentially provide the connectivity only. The application that run atop that connection would have to be supplied by a different company.
To use a PSTN analogy under my regime, your LEC would be responsible for providing you a pair of copper wires (or equivelant) and ensuring that pair of copper wires works and connects with the network. The “dialtone” would come from, say a company that provides Voice or IP services. The LEC would be forbidden from offering ANY data or voice services. Their mission in life would be to ensure everyone can connect with one another.
I don’t know if my idea has any hope of being received warmly or not, or even if it is, has any chance of happening, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it for now.