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Re: NOTE DATE FCC Moves Closer to Regulating the Internet
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2008 09:22:24 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Phil Karn <karn () ka9q net>
Date: September 11, 2008 8:59:46 AM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Subject: Re: [IP] NOTE DATE  FCC Moves Closer to Regulating the Internet

FCC Moves Closer to Regulating the Internet

I wish articles like this wouldn't talk about "Regulating the Internet". The issue is very clearly about regulating the monopoly at the physical layer in the retail residential market. That means the transmission facilities individuals and small businesses use to ACCESS the Internet.

The distinction couldn't be more important. Confusing the two plays right into the hands of the cablecos and telcos who have long been saying, for their own self-serving purposes, that the Internet should be unregulated and "free" -- as in freedom for themselves but most definitely not as in beer for the users.

Since before the AT&T breakup the FCC has had some very strange definitions of the terms "telecommunications" or "basic" service and "information" or "enhanced" service. We've always known they were fictions, but we've tolerated them because the end result (no to minimal regulation of the Internet in its development phase) is what we've all wanted.

But as often happens in a completely unregulated market, the Internet has created some very serious and destructive monopolies. Ironically these are the very same entities who had little or nothing to do with the Internet's development, who either ignored it or tried to kill it in its infancy, but who jumped in and seized control as soon as there was a lot of money to be made from it.

So these strange definitions of "information service" and "telecommunications service" are ready to burn us if we're not careful.

What has to happen is very clear: "telecommunications services" must be defined as "physical transmission facilities" and "information services" as the applications of those facilities. The former must be carefully regulated wherever a market failure has created a destructive monopoly. The latter should be left completely alone because it's vibrant and diverse, and there's really nothing wrong with it.

Under no circumstances must the telecommunications service providers be allowed to grab further control over the information services that use them. We can count on them to try.

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