Cross Posted From Dan Kurz’s Jersey Globe Blog http://kurzglobe.blogspot.com/…
With recent news that Comcast plans to implement some sort of bandwidth/usage cap on its Internet users, it inadvertently and probably put a nail, at least from an ideological standpoint, in its soon-to-be corporate coffin. Now I know from a present-day perspective, that seems a bit extreme to say, considering that it’s one of the nation’s largest and most profitable corporations. Nevertheless, by implementing bandwidth caps, Comcast is doing more than falling off the Internet wagon; it’s shooting the horse. At the least, Comcast data caps ought to be declared by the Federal Government to be monopolistic activity and regulated; in an ideal situation, the Internet giant should be broken up into several rival corporations to drive prices down and internet speeds up. The U.S. Supreme Court did this in the early 1980’s by breaking up the old AT&T “Bell System,” and the result, frankly, was our modern-day communications miracle.
It bears repeating. The Internet is our network of networks. It’s very presence in our lives is something that is, frankly, without historical precedent. It is quickly forming into the economic backbone of the global economy, and that’s a fact that’s not going to change in future years, it’s only going to expand. And as one of the nation’s largest (and perhaps, soon to be the largest) Internet service providers, capped Internet represents an intentional plug on national economic growth and security. Internet caps are the equivalent of internal tariffs, an evil of the past that is outlawed in our own national constitution. There are so many reasons to reject the idea of caps, it’s not even funny. Here are a few:
1. There is no bandwidth crisis. We know this because while Comcast and other big-time Internet Service Providers tell the FCC that there is, they’re bragging to their own investors that there is plenty of bandwidth to go around, and profitably so.
2. New fiber optic cables and data compression technologies are amply keeping up with bandwidth needs
3. Capping internet use and charging more for it will make all forms of digital communications and commerce artificially more expensive; it’s the equivalent to a physical attack on the national communications infrastructure in order to keep prices high
4. We know from the short history of the Internet that today’s “Internet sipper” is tomorrow’s “power user” as more Internet use is the norm, not the opposite
5. In places where Comcast and its monopolistic equivalents encounter competition prices have gone down and value for consumers has gone up; don’t believe me? Ask anyone from Austin, Texas, where the cable companies are being forced to compete with Google Fiber’s amazing packages…no internet caps there and speeds on par with South Korea’s (100 mbs+)
I could care less about Comcast and its quest for profits, especially if it comes at this kind of price. Our international competitors in South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Israel don’t cap their web use, because they know they’d be insane to do so. With so many start-up businesses depending on broad Internet use from both sides of the business model (producer and consumer), they have no intention of stifling the digital commons or limiting it in any way. If anything, our international rivals are making web use less expensive and more ubiquitous. Just this year, Tel Aviv’s municipal government began a plan to make the entire city wireless – for free. Taipei, Taiwan is already wireless, with Wi-Fi available on nearly every street and alleyway.
What we need is more competition and antitrust enforcement. In America we believe in the right to private property, but not at the expense of endangering the growth potential of the entire national economy. That’s what the Sherman Antitrust Act and similar legislation are for. We don’t believe in monopolies and, in fact, regard them as a threat. And that’s not just me – Adam Smith, that “Father of Capitalism,” makes the exact same argument in the very Bible of Capitalism: The Wealth of Nations.
Comcast’s quest wring the national Internet market for every dollar even at the expense at destroying its most valuable aspect, that being the vast potential for individual and national financial growth, must be countered and reversed. It’s in everybody’s interest to do so, especially those who still embrace the ideals of America as a place for broad economic opportunity and an unregulated marketplace for ideas.