I just attended the Open Internet and Innovation workshop in Boston yesterday, and I was disturbed by the basic tone, which was, "gee, how can we keep making money with this thing to keep it alive?"
There were a lot of ideas that seemed to me very similar to the way network operators were thinking, pre-internet-era. The current internet has become too polluted by large corporate stakeholders who have their own selfish ideas about how the network shall be built.
They had all sorts of new ways they wanted to charge money, all sorts of new limitations on users, no interest in a user as a contributor to the network, but merely as the consumer of some monopoly's service.
That's not what the internet was about, when it was first deployed. I remember a political friend of mine in 1990 declaring the entire internet “welfare for geeks, and a complete waste of money.” Do you think it was a waste of money?
"Stakeholders" have come along and taken it over enough that all eyes are on them, and what they can do to be profitable, and choke our speeds, and limit our connectivity.
When a plumber encounters a clogged valve, he cuts it out and puts in a new one. It's really much easier than trying to deal with the old one. That's also the easiest way to renovate a house. You just put up a new one instead of trying to fiddle with all the problems of the old one.
I say we keep the Internet…
But in parallel, we should also build a new faster, more open one, too. If the cable companies are offering good value, people will stay with them, just like people would have stayed with compuserve when the internet first appeared. If not, then that obviously wasn't such a good service.
To start, let's figure out what it would take to just put a tarabit up/down to every premise in the country, and this time, make sure that every single component of the entire network is, as David Clark said, an interchangeable puzzle piece that fits into the whole. That goes for every single component, software and hardware, so that anybody at any time, can enhance the network.
The government has dropped the ball on Internet research, leaving us in the biased hands of entities such as cable labs, who have developed proprietary protocols that are good for the cable company, but not really good for a real “internet.”
So somebody said to me, when I mentioned the above idea, "what about the cost of doing that? It's not free, you know." No good investment is, but the small $11B investment in the original Internet, has paid $Trillions into the economy, so it's a pretty good investment, I'd say. $11B is how much we have been spending each few weeks in Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s how much we have been spending every 5 days on interest on the national debt. The real questions are, what’s a better investment? Bombing people in Afghanistan? Paying $400 per gallon for gas there? Or having every premise in the country connected with a terabit up/down?