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Comments on news posted 2008-06-26 14:43:21: An eclectic and disjointed mix of businesses, consumer advocacy organizations, politicians and technologists this week banded together under the "Internet For Everyone" banner to promote, well, Internet for everyone. ..

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Alfred E Newman


U.S. Broadband

As a small really rural WISP I get very angry seeing all the subsidies go to the large guys. We literally mortgaged the farm to start up our business. None of our customers will, in the next ten years, have DSL, cable or FIOS. We are the only alternative to dialup. Our cost per customer is over $900 each for equipment...customers only pay $100 install and $50 per month for 3Mbps service. We do not restrict P2P, but ask that they be courteous about it's use.
We are putting up towers, $11,000 each, to reach another 240 subscribers. What do we get from government . . . additional taxes, zoning hearing charges, paperwork up the wazoo and little else.
Some of our customers are so anxious to get service that they are putting up their own towers!


San Francisco, CA

Fair enough...

I've seen enough of these types of groups come and go in my nearly a decade of covering the industry to begin to wonder what the actual point is. A group that wants a fast, fair Internet is about as pertinent as a group that demands tasty strudel for everyone.
Fair enough, but one thing this accomplishes is getting together a network of people and organizations who all share a common set of goals. These groups carry a lot of sway and influence and are better mobilized as an organized whole than as individuals. I guess that's why we want to be a part of it.

We're seriously concerned, and we know we can't do it alone.
We're hiring people at OpenDNS. Are you an amazing programmer?

Laramie, WY

Yes, it's all about the money - for the lobbyists

Whenever you see an effort like this, it is helpful to know who's behind it and what their motivation is.

The lobbyists and lawyers behind this (lawyers Wu, Lessig, and Ammori and and Free Press, their inside-the-Beltway lobbying organization; the other groups that have signed on are just riding along) have large staffs and need lots of money to pay them. (The group's site, at »www.freepress.net, lists a staff of 35 people!)

When these lobbyists run out of meaningful causes to pursue, they don't want to cut those staffs or their salaries (it's expensive to live in DC). So, they attempt to invent crises that they can take to contributors and ask for more money. This group's previous straw man was "network neutrality" -- an attempt to regulate the Internet in a way that was not actually "neutral" at all but rather favored them and their contributors at the expense of consumers.

Now that it's clear that the regulation Free Press was pushing (which actually would have hurt consumer choice and broadband deployment) would be harmful to consumers and will not go anywhere in this session of Congress, they've launched another "feel good" campaign: "Internet for Everyone." Like a chicken in every pot, it's something that on the surface no one would claim was undesirable.

But at what cost? Are we going to be taxed to pay for mediocre, always-overloaded, unreliable public Wi-Fi, which would congest the airwaves and prevent commercial wireless providers from offering higher quality access over the same radio spectrum?

And how? As with their previous campaign, the Devil's in the details. The group is likely to push for free public Wi-Fi (even though all efforts in this realm to date have been low quality and financially unsustainable); buildout requirements for telephone and cable companies; and -- this time buried within the larger agenda -- the same regulation of the Internet that they wanted before.

And, as Karl mentioned, the organization won't tackle the most pressing problem: corruption. (In fact, it's part of the self serving inside-the-Beltway political machine itself; that's why it's launching this slick but almost content-free campaign.) The real reason that we don't have competitive Internet everywhere is that the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been scrapped by the FCC and the courts (e.g. Brand X). Until Congress has the moxie to revisit the issue and ensure that the Bell System blob doesn't re-assemble itself (it's only two mergers away from it now and already acts as if it has re-assembled), we're in trouble. Until the airwaves are available to small, local competitors (the terms of the recent auctions have been slanted so as to let the huge companies snatch it up), ubiquitous, quality wireless broadband will barely be feasible. We need to start there -- not by supporting "feel good" groups with hidden agendas.



Re: Yes, it's all about the money - for the lobbyists

lessig and wu are not lobbyists and they aren't paid to advance a special interest's legislative agenda.
They simply believe intensely in certain things, and use their greater than average influence to fight for them.

BTW, Lessig has moved the focus of his life from net/communication issues to issues of government corruption over the last year or two.

Laramie, WY

Lessig and Wu absolutely are lobbyists.

I watched, two months ago, as Lessig held forth in front of the FCC, lobbying it to regulate the Internet. Wu has appeared before Congress, doing the same thing. And they're both on the Board of Directors of Free Press, the lobbying group that has launched the campaign referenced in the article above. So, yes, they are both lawyers and lobbyists.

While it is true that Lessig has talked about a campaign to fight corruption, he's backed down on it. And he recently scrapped plans to run for office himself. Instead, he's gone back to being a sort of "ambulance chasing" lawyer -- except that in his case, rather than chasing ambulances, he chases fads. What he does is sort of like the old saying, "To be a leader, find a parade and jump in front of it." It's all PR and little or no substance, just like his speech to the FCC (in which he cast a few stones at Comcast but made no substantive points and presented no evidence).

Hazelwood, MO

3 edits

As I have said numerous times.....

One network nationwide, that reaches every person/business. One line that can carry any service the person/business wants to purchase from any company anywhere in the country.

Let one or 2 companies be responsible for maintaining and upgrading the network with government oversight. They earn their money by leasing the lines to the companies that want to provide service on a per subscriber basis.

If I as a customer want my ISP, phone, and TV from different companies, I shouldn't have to have 3 different companies running a line through my neighborhood, my neighbor's yard and to my home. Nor should anyone else including you pro monopoly/duopoly corporate stock huggers expect me too.

Laramie, WY

One network = No choice

One network? In this day and age -- with structural separation and line sharing dead -- that would mean a total monopoly. You can't be serious about wanting that.

Hazelwood, MO

Re: One network = No choice

I think you need to read what I posted again. If you still do not understand that I am not calling for one network owned by corporate stock huggers, then I don't know how else to dumb it down any further.