Campaign: Reasonable Network Management

Private Companies Have Stolen Public Property

The issue is not the internet, the issue is the infrastructure. The 2oth century was characterised by the introduction of public utilities - massive investment in infrastructure that could only be justified if it was built once, not over and over. No one expects to have five sets of power lines run to their house so that five suppliers can compete - you would never get the first set of wires.

 

To improve the life of the people, public utilities were set up and funded with public debt. Monopolies were created and regulated and the infrastructure built. Once the infrastructure is in place and paid for, it becomes possible to separate the infrastructure from the content. Power plants become privately owned and operated, but the wires remain a separate bit, whose only role is to carry power from suppliers to your home. Marketers sell power from the grid to the customers, who are free to choose.

 

Our problem is that we have let the massive amount of money in the entertainment and telecoms business pervert the model. There isn't a foot of wire that wasn't installed with the people's money via approved monopoly. Cable TV started with regulated monopolies that were "privatised" once the companies got big enough to buy the politicians. Satellite TV was scrambled when the cable companies could threaten the providers with loss of huge numbers of viewers.

 

With respect to radio spectrum, the crazy mix of CDMA, GSM, EDGE, etc. only happens in this country. No one else would be stupid enough to let a limited thing like the low latency radio spectrum to be sold off to private companies who have a vested interest in having incompatible standards. It is insane.

 

This is a battle for spectrum and wire, not ideas and content. This is about the money. The people's money. We funded it, we license it, we own it - or at least we should. Instead we pay too much for too little. Other countries have faster connections, better mobile phones, interoperability, streaming HD. We get private monopoly after private monopoly.

 

I propose that all wired infrastructure and spectrum be controlled as neutral public utilities. There is no need to worry about expansion or innovation. The customers are the both the consumer and the content provider. They will demand that the utility provides cutting edge service, both to have a market and to satisfy a need. By separating the critical and limited infrastructure from the content, we can let the content providers innovate content to sell to the consumer, the technology companies innovate to sell to the public utilities, and the markets to ensure the most practical solution wins.

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Idea No. 10