I dedicated all of yesterday’s radioshow (already available for download) to the issue of network neutrality. I’m quite convinced that this is the most important communications issue to watch in 2006, since whatever Congress does will have long-lasting repercussions on the very basis of our telecommunications infrastructure.
Yesterday’s show featured some excerpts of testimony from last Tuesday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing on network neutrality. The other half of the show features excerpts from a Free Press sponsored conference call on the issue where Stanford Prof. Larry Lessig, Free Press’ Ben Scott (who was on the Feb. 3 radioshow) and the Center for Digital Democracy’s Jeff Chester provided some broader perspective on the issue.
The purpose of the conference call was to reach out to bloggers and podcasters so that we can better inform our readers and listeners about this debate.
I think the very ability for independent media makers to continue to use the internet to easily and inexpensively distribute their works is in jeopardy. AT&T and Verizon want to charge content providers for the data they send to their customers’ computers, even though content makers, like me, already pay for our own internet access in addition to the fees to host our content on servers.
Verizon accuses us of getting a “free lunch” even though I’m already paying for a bandwidth bill that covers the cost of every single radioshow file that gets downloaded from this website.
They want to double-dip, and they want Congress to enshrine that “right” in law.
What the rest of us want, and need, is for network neutrality to remain the law. Data is data, whether it’s sound, video, pictures or text. If you pay $50 a month for your 2 megabits of DSL, then that’s what you should get, no matter where on the internet that data originated.
Even if you don’t normally listen to the radioshow I encourage you to listen to this one. There’s also a low-bandwidth version for people with slower connections, and an ogg version for folks who like their codecs open source.
Free Press has a network neutrality action site which lets you send an email to teleom CEOs and Congress letting them know that you want your ‘net freedom.
And Om Malik has a guest column posted to his blog that lays out a good argument that “Net Neutrality Not An Optional Feature of Internet.”