Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Internet applications, bandwidth, network neut, etc.

It may not surprise you that I have been following the so-called "network neutrality" discussion with considerable interest (there are numerous posts on my blog on this subject). With the new Congress in January, we might even see revived efforts to regulate the Internet along these lines. So, when Forbes published this article today, it brought this discussion back to mind for me (I posted this item on my blog that contains excerpts from the article).

It seems to me that this article reinforces exactly what the carriers have been saying in this debate ... that network upgrades are necessary and costly, that both content providers and users benefit from this, and that they (the carriers) should have the right to be able to charge any parties who benefits for the service. On the other hand, the article is mum on the concern of content blocking that might arise from vertical integration. But then, this issue has been a matter of concern since the 1860s (no, this is not a typo) when Western Union and AP hammered out an agreement that protected each market from the other. To me, "net neut" is a replay of this discussion. Aside from Madison River, it is very difficult to find a case in which this kind of vertical integration has limited consumer access to applications. So isn't it a bit premature to regulate?

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