Dave Farber wrote an op-ed last week:
The Internet needs a makeover. Unfortunately, congressional initiatives aimed at preserving the best of the old Internet threaten to stifle the emergence of the new one.
Hold Off On Net Neutrality By David Farber and Michael Katz, Washington Post, Friday, January 19, 2007; Page A19
He rightly points out that government invervention could be a cure worse than the disease. (Have I mentioned ISO-OSI lately?) However, I have some problems with his proposed solution.
- Farber proposes using anti-trust law on a case-by-case basis. You know, the solution that has worked so well in the U.S. Microsoft anti-trust case. Then he says:
The legislative proposals debated in the 109th Congress take a very different approach. They would impose far-reaching prohibitions affecting all broadband providers, regardless of whether they wielded monopoly power and without any analysis of whether the challenged practice actually harmed competition. If enacted, these proposals would threaten to restrict a wide range of innovative services without providing any compensating customer benefits.
Does this mean we believe that we should place all our trust in the market and the current providers? No. But it does mean we should wait until there is a problem before rushing to enact solutions.
Wait until there's a problem? The problem was already produced in August 2005 when the FCC abrogated the old net neutrality rules.
Wait until there's a problem? Since the FCC let SBC (er, I mean AT&T) buy Bellsouth, we're back to AT&T from Sea to Sea very like in 1988 before the anti-trust breakup of the old AT&T.
Elsewhere (on the dewayne-net list) Farber admits that JP, KR, etc. have established something like net neutrality and have providers busily selling broadband 10x faster than you can get stateside; he then blames it on U.S. industry not being as obedient as that in Japan, and on the quarterly profit orientation of Wall Street.
So if U.S. industry is less willing to follow good advice and more tied to quarterly profits, how does that translate to less oversight needed? The FCC has demonstrated it isn't going to level the playing field, so somebody else needs to.