Here is a roundup of some of the more interesting and thoughtful recent articles, posts and audio bits concerning network neutrality policy:
Michael Grebb, Wired News: Neutral Net? Who Are You Kidding?: "Six months ago, few outside of internet policy wonk circles were aware of the issue. Now, the best-known brands on the net are flexing their lobbying muscles for and against it, and lawmakers have responded with a raft of competing bills. As the debate reaches fever pitch, it seems fair to ask: How neutral is the net right now?"
Unfortunately, even though neutrality is a critically important facilitator of free speech and democratic dialogue, it is still difficult to explain in succinct talking points. Bob Frankston finds an analogy that helps to make the "net neutrality" question somewhat more tangible and less theoretic: Sidewalks: Paying by the Stroll: "I've been immersed in so-called tele-communications issues for a long time but I haven't posted too much lately because I'm not satisfied with net neutrality and am trying to figure out how to explain that the problem is more fundamental (as in 'Telecom Phrase'). How come I have to plead for neutrality when we're talking about infrastructure that we should own?"
Ben Scott (Free Press), Mark Cooper (Consumer Federation of America) and Jeannine Kenney (Consumers Union): Why Consumers Demand Internet Freedom: Network Neutrality Fact vs. Fiction: "Network Neutrality protections have existed for the entire history of te Internet. opponents of Internet freedom pretend that Network Neutrality protections would mean new, onerous government regulations. But advocates of Network Neutrality are not promoting new regulations. We are preserving tried and tested consumer protections and network operating principles that have made the Internet the greatest engine of economic growth and democratic communication in modern memory."
At the WSJ, Mike McCurry (Telecom lobbyist) and Craig Newmark (Founder of Craigslist) debate net neutrality regulation: Should the Net Be Neutral?: "Newmark: Mike says 'let the current rules govern' and that's what we're trying to do, trying to stop the big guys from changing the rules via the Federal Communications Commission. We're trying to preserve the level playing field. It's just fairness. Americans want to play fair, work hard and get ahead. That's what net neutrality is about."
Adam Cohen, NY Times: Why the Democratic Ethic of the World Wide Web May Be About to End: "The World Wide Web is the most democratic mass medium there has ever been. Freedom of the press, as the saying goes, belongs only to those who own one. Radio and television are controlled by those rich enough to buy a broadcast license. But anyone with an Internet-connected computer can reach out to a potential audience of billions."
Susan Crawford: Comparative broadband ideas: "How do you increase competition in the U.S. for broadband access? Right now, we have giants fighting with each other -- cable and telephone companies. Small numbers of these companies control 80%-90% of the market for broadband access. After the BellSouth merger, AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast alone will control 49% of the market"
Susan Crawford: The definition of net neutrality: "There are lots of people out there saying 'we need to treat all VoIP alike, all video alike, and all blogs alike.'' For them, that's network neutrality. That's not what I hope we'll end up meaning by net neutrality.' That would require a heavy-handed regulator enforcing a provider's determination of what packets are 'like' other packets.' I am not in favor of that approach. I have a different vision.' I hope, someday, we'll treat broadband access like the utility it is.' That would mean separating transport from other activities, and separating access from backbone and backhaul transport.' That doesn't require a great deal of discretion to repose in any particular actor."
David Isenberg: What's driving the next telecom law: "Until this decade, law has treated the telephone network as a public accommodation, meaning that non-discriminatory access to the network, known as network neutrality in the current policy debate, was assured. On the Internet, though, non-discriminatory access leads straight to the erosion of the telco/cableco business model by third parties that would not behave as 'rational competitors.' This is why telephone companies are fighting fiercely against non-discriminatory access."
John Reinan, Star Tribune: Access to the Internet: Is it a right or a privilege?: "Imagine if the Internet were like cable TV. You pay $40 a month to Time Warner or Comcast, and you get a menu of 80 websites to visit. Want to go to a site devoted to Japanese anime cartoons? Sorry, that's not on the menu. Looking for that crazy blog about the history of matchbook covers? No longer available -- or so slow to load it's not worth your while.
NPR All Things Considered: Internet Debate: Preserving User Parity: "Should the Internet be divided into fast and slow lanes? That's the question at the heart of the debate over 'network neutrality.' Broadband providers have clashed with Internet and software companies, who are concerned that giving some users preferential treatment for a price effectively shuts out competition."
On the Media: Information Toll Road: " couple of months back, we discussed the prospect that one day the Internet might be split into a fast lane and a slow lane. That's because the telephone and cable companies that supply us with broadband service believe they're getting a raw deal. They say that content providers ought to be willing to pay extra for the high-speed delivery that is now available to all, a state of affairs called "network neutrality." Well, that fateful day may fast be approaching. "
Public Radio Exchange: Four Voices from Freedom to Connect The hour consists of excerpts from four talks given at Freedom to Connect in Washington, D.C. on April 3 & 4, 2006: Congressman Rick Boucher (D-VA), Chris Sacca (Google), Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell, Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt"