Archive for March, 2010

Shooting the Messenger

In the last few years a troubling development has emerged in U.S. telecom and Internet policy. Network policy didn’t used to be highly partisan; emblematic of this is the fact that the 1996 Telecommunications Act was passed along bipartisan lines. Increasingly, however, the dialogue over networking policy has become shrill, partisan and divorced from reality.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the net neutrality debate. To listen to the advocates of strong net neutrality regulation, the incumbent ISPs can’t wait to block “objectionable” content, impose mandatory charges on all web sites to reach ISP customers, and manage their networks to favor their own video and voice services over services like Netflix and Skype.

The fact that there has only been one case of this sort of abusive behavior in the United States – rural network operator Madison River Telecommunications blocking Internet telephone service to protect its telephone network profits – which was immediately remedied by the FCC, does not seem to matter to advocates who’d rather not be confused by the facts. The fact that no ISP has proposed mandatory two-sided pricing (charges to web sites to enable ISP … Read the rest

Another 25 Years of Dot-Com

Twenty-five years ago today, a now-defunct vendor of artificial intelligence registered “symbolics.com.” It was the first dot-com and represented the birth of a revolution. Even after the bubble of the then-nascent dot-com economy burst 10 years ago, the commercial Internet has become the economic force of our time, delivering $1.5 trillion in annual economic benefits to businesses and consumers. The Internet has transformed business, politics, daily life, and entire societies throughout the world. In the Internet economy, consumers not only find the specific product or service they are looking for, but they can also shape and customize those same products and services. Remarkably, this is just the beginning.

The dot-com economy is by no means mature. About 1.7 billion of the world’s 6.7 billion people use the Internet, meaning 75% of us are still off to the side of the flow of e-commerce. Less than a third of Americans buy things online. Only about half the small businesses in the U.S. have a Web site.

So what would a “completed” Internet revolution look like? No one really knows. But it is intriguing to forecast some of the changes likely … Read the rest