Net Neutrality and Internet Build-Out

So, what can be done about Net Neutrality, opposition from some Providers and some unions?

The key here is devising a win-win for all involved
Big providers are looking to make money; either just good money, or if possible, great money

To support universal high-speed access, buildout is required
But to support an ever-rising usage of video, even within the current built-out coverage area, will also require investment

over the jump ...

It's true that this investment is recouped over time by standard DSL fees
But the length of time in question might be extended, and so the rate of return per year on that investment will vary correspondingly; and this is key to the value of the stock and the perceived success of the CEO

If they are able to charge a higher markup for guaranteed-speed-and-quality video, then they get the money faster, get more overall, get a better rate of return on investment and have the leverage to put even higher-tech and higher-revenue-generating infrastructure in place

The challenge for Congress and the netroots is to come up with a proposal that helps fund the build-out and innovation, while preserving net neutrality
If it is known and understood far and wide that the build-out is a national priority, with real national commitment behind it, then the ability for these companies to spin this as purely and solely a private business proposition is diminished
It's both a business and a national infrastructure and that should be stated in law and supported by facts

The key is to put together a law that envisions a national build-out, both in widening service reach into new areas and in raising quality of service to tv/video standards
The law should have targets time-wise and it should be both national and state-level policy to do what's needed to expedite the process
Financially, real incentives should be granted to companies that will do the build-out
These can be tax credits, grants, low-interest loans, streamlined approvals or any other device that is appropriate
How much of that is necessary should be simply worked out by govt, business, tech, labor and consumer experts

It may end up being a 5-year plan or whatever it may take, but it should be a national commitment to have universal high-speed service, excellent, video-level, quality of service and net neutrality, with good, solid financial returns for companies that get on board with the vision

This infrastructure, including video, will be critical to education, for youth and for all ages, in the future and this point should be pushed in justifying govt support and facilitation of the effort
It will also be key to emerging online democratic forms and more universal participation in our national discourse

The issue with video is should companies charge extra for good quality-of-service on consumer-accessible video, beyond simply charging extra for higher-speed DSL?  (whether they charge the website or the user or both)

Should they be able to maintain a parallel 'pipe'?
So that you can see the same site through regular internet, but the video is current quality; or you can go through the high-end system and you get a much better experience (full-screen, high-quality, tv/movie - like)
They would do this simply to create new revenue possibilities, rather than necessarily having a nefarious political intent (although it would in fact have that effect)

Some of the issues will have to do with who owns or controls which pipes, what they can be used for
The build-out laws proposed here should specify that the pipes are for internet use, and simply mandate such a large amount of bandwidth to be supported, that quality-of-service for video is no longer an issue in this country
At the end of the day, the companies want a profit, how they get the profit is secondary
If the proposals can be constructed such that the companies are doing well financially, without this segmenting off of the online video world, then the arguments to support that are weakened

If big providers stay in business, grow, extend to new areas and are getting good, solid returns, there's no reason that union jobs should be threatened, and in fact there will be more jobs, more internet business, more opportunity and better educational and training options supported by a truly national and modern internet infrastructure
There's no reason labor and netroots can't work together, in a way that is also pro-business, on this one

Tags: CWA, net neutrality (all tags)

Comments

1 Comment

Re: Net Neutrality and Internet Build-Out

Yours is a really good formulation of the issues.  I am a CWA member who supports their SPEED MATTERS campaign (http://www.speedmatters.org). I think the key issue must be high speed build out -- there must be protections for consumers; there must be free-speech; there must be an end to red-lining.  But, allowing a portion of a much more widespread, faster, more affordable internet, to be reserved for video or other offerings to pay for the build-out, is not a threat to anyone. The concentration must be to promote programs like ConnectKentucky and the new  Omnibus Telecommunications Reform Act in New York which requires build out and has all kinds of protections for communities, workers and consumers. There has got to be a way we can come together on this or we will continue to fall further and further behind the rest of the world.  

by Laura Unger 2007-05-02 01:03PM | 0 recs

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