Net Neutrality

There was a wonderful round-table type discussion on Net Neutrality on the Diane Rehm show recently, which can be found here.  The best part about this discussion was that there were people from many different aspects of the debate: a lawyer against the big telecom efforts, someone from the big telecom side, someone from the FCC, and a reporter who has covered the debate.   There was live fact-checking between members of the panel.  If one side made a claim that was not accurate, the other side would clarify the statements.  The audio is just under an hour in length.  If you don’t have that much time to listen, there’s several very good video clips that are further down on the page, as well as a link to John Oliver’s rant for net neutrality down in the comments, all worth consideration.

Listening to the discussion, the telecom representative did a lot of verbal dancing, such as differentiating between wireless providers of data, and wired.  Rephrasing the opposition’s argument to the ridiculous case, “Diane, how many gas pipes do you have in your home?”  It seems she was a bit confused by this comment.  No one is saying there should be multiple lines brought into someone’s home.  What we do have with phone service is the choice for multiple long distance carriers.  

Diane, how many gas pipes do you have in your home?Rob Atkinson, President of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation

Mr. Atkinson’s comments about people not wanting faster internet are also absurd.  I know at my home, I pay for 10 MB download speeds, but can count on just under 7.   Once we get 2 people on Netflix, one kid streaming YouTube, and another killing Nazi Zombies on Call of Duty online with his friends, web pages can take forever to download.  I also have an issue with the argument that our country is too large to service everyone.  And the argument that local institutions fail at providing service is also wrong, as is indicated in the article.   In Scotland County, Missouri, they have a cooperative telephone and internet service provider.  About ten years ago, they were able to get a grant that allowed for the coop to run fiber optic throughout the county.  As a result, even homes out in the sticks can get high speed internet, as well as digital cable service.  There are communes in that county where people make a living off of the internet because they have high speed internet available.  I have neighbors in rural Missouri in our county that only had dial-up until about a year ago.  One of my student’s father has a business on I-70 part way between Columbia, MO and St. Louis.  I’m told a main fiber hub runs along I-70, but since this man’s business is half a mile outside the nearest town, he is unable to get DSL service that can be found in town.  He’s relegated to using satellite internet service, which goes down during a rain, or snow, or fog, or on really cloudy days.  Personally, I’d love to see the same effort go into high speed internet across the country as went into the interstate highway system.  I believe we’ll see the same increase in commerce that we saw with that effort.  It’s time to get our country up to speed.