Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Déja vu all over again

"Other groups warned that the rules would smooth the way for fast and slow lanes on the Internet. … Before the F.C.C. meeting even began on Tuesday, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said in a statement that the Internet 'should be left alone,' and that his colleagues would 'push back against new rules and regulations' next year." -- New York Times story  of December 22, 2010 on the FCC neutrality rules

"A few years ago a man started a news bureau in Cincinnati. A correspondent in New York filed the market reports each morning and the Cincinnati gentleman sold the information to customers. The Western Union asked him to sell out to them and he refused; thereupon his messages were taken away from the "through" wire and sent by a "way" wire. The difference in time was an hour, and the man was ruined. What were the relations of the Western Union to the people of the country in their social and political interests? The Western Union was controlled by three or four gentlemen in New York. It controlled the market prices, all the political and general news sent over its wires--every single important personal communication sent in the country. This company was controlled by no law except the interests of its owners. No State could pass a law which should have any effect on this corporation. Was there any other like power in the world? … How is it with the press? The Western Union Telegraph Company and the Associated Press made a close corporation. … Some time ago two papers in San Francisco discussed the postal telegraph. The rates to those papers were increased. One paper died in consequence and the other ceased to discuss the matter. … This was the power which this corporation held." -- Testimony before a congressional committee about the telegraph monopoly by Gardiner Hubbard, as reported by the New York Times, February 8, 1883

Internet service is not a national monopoly yet, but it is heading toward being a regional monopoly. Most people now get their Internet service from their Cable TV provider, and most regions are now served by only one Cable TV service. Speak up if you believe that a service like Skype, which singlehandedly has undercut the hugely profitable international telephone business, could again come into existence with no regulation and monopoly Internet service provision.

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