Craig Aaron, Directory of Communciations of Free Press and Save The Internet a media watchdog group, says big telecom companies have declared open season on ‘Net neutrality.’ He’s afraid these companies will dictate how we use the Internet, and I had the pleasure of speaking with him today and thought I’d put a few hilights here. Be sure and look for the full article in the June 30 Business Lexington Magazine.
Many Businesses seem to know little about the issue, and few seem to think it affects them. What would you say to these folks?
Unless they are huge, or partners with one of the large cable or telephone companies, their website’s performance may degrade. Their cost of doing business can be raised long term by a lack of competitive pressures on telecommunications companies.
For companies that are not using a lot of bandwidth now, the issue might seem distant. Should they be concerned?
Think back to the days of dial-up access. If you’d have asked them about legislation that might affect broadband, they might have not taken much interest. But think how it would affect them now if there were restrictions.
Some say the Senate are going to just let the telecommunications firms have their way and hope that the FCC will just watch for infractions – sort of a shoot them all and let the FCC sort them out approach. What do you think about that?
The legislation being written prevents Congress from establishing clear rules for the FCC, and forces them to handle complaints on a case-by-case basis. This can take years, and many smaller firms affected by infractions will already be out of business by the time their cases are heard. Consistent, enforceable rules are needed for the FCC so that everyone knows what the rules are, and this legislation prevents that.
Doesn’t Google and others already have a huge influence over the success and failure of a business by virtue of their search engine positions?
This is a smokescreen that the opposition are putting up. Google does not allow anyone to buy better rankings in their regular search results. You can buy ads, but it’s clear they are ads. If they started altering that policy of no payment for top position, consumers would go elsewhere and the market would correct it.
This is not true in the case of the telecommunications companies controlling the last mile of cable. The telcos lobbied to get out from under 70 years of policies that ensured open access and somehow convinced the FCC that two were enough for broadband (98% of the US can get DSL or cable only.) Now they have no competition for access, and they can take advantage of that position.
How can we build out the technology while still protecting the democratic nature of the web?
I think the Telcos are crying wolf to make more money. They could make it the old fashioned way. They could invent now and innovative services that people want. We could also have a good broadband policy that allowed competition for access like Japan or South Korea. There’s no need to undercut small business. There is plenty of money available.
Thanks to Craig Aaron, a very busy man, for his time.
Free Press can be found at http://www.freepress.net/