Empowering the Internet One American at a Time is an excellent post by Erik Cecil, a battle-hardened telecom lawyer whose vision of the Big Picture and around all curves continues to delight me. The post first appeared on a mail list, and is addressed primarily to fellow Internet and telecom obsessives (myself included). Here are its opening paragraphs:
From this lawyer’s perspective, regulation mostly puts the legal power in the hands of carriers and regulators. The Internet puts technology in the hands of everyday people. There’s a mismatch. I’ve offered here and in other places simple ways to fix that near term, but as you may see from discussions in policy, legal, technical, and economic circles, we get into all sorts of interesting chats about history and this and that, but few actually take on the political realities and industry issues head-on. Connectivity sucks in every state because we subsidize to the tune of billions of dollars per year ancient technologies, force new ones into those shoehorns, and drive costs through the roof. Industry, particularly competitive industry is hemmed in on one side by what by any monetary measure is monopoly and on the other by regulators. Since industry is terrified of getting under the skin of the regulators (with good reason in many respects – they can be vindictive at times; happy to take anyone through any dozen briefs, recommended decisions and commission decisions), there’s a lot of dancing around the issue, but few, IMHO, really run it to ground.
Very simply: federalize regulation BUT put the rights in the hands of individuals rather than the always hyper-political state PUCs, which, as you note and as has been discussed on this list and other lists for years, tend to be self-serving in how they cut up their data. Unless and until we flatten regulation, it will continue to flatten us. The little guys cannot afford the legal and political horsepower it takes to compete. Trust me; I’ve run some of the biggest ones around (at least from the competitive side) and I still deal with this on a daily basis.
More fodder for this morning’s session at Supernova.
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