Sunday, October 14, 2007

Netting Access

Here's an interesting post from Senator Kerry on increasing access to broadband internet. Clearly, Senator Kerry "gets it" on net neutrality and other issues. However, his post expanded way beyond net neutrality and into looking at the net in the 21st Century - and how we can make sure every American has access. There's one analogy the Senator made that I found quite compelling.
One suggestion I saw throughout was the call to treat the Internet like any other essential utility, and I couldn’t agree with you more. We don’t let profits dictate who has running water and whose lights are on in America. The same must hold true for Internet access. All Americans, all schools and all businesses should have access to high-speed Internet connections just like these other basic services.

I can't think of a better place to start the dialogue. In this next millennium, access to broadband internet is going to be like access to water and electricity. It will literally be America's source of information, cable, phones and who knows what else. Furthermore, the civic potentials are endless. Can we afford to treat access to Broadband differently? Sadly, right now we're treating it more like an HMO - scary stuff.

One important thing, though, is affordability - not just access. Currently, broadband in America is far more expensive than it is in Europe - mainly because of competition, shocker of all shockers. In France, people can bundle their cable, internet, land line phone and other services together for about $30 a month - all because that country created the type of bold strategy Senator Kerry is calling for now. How did France do it? They did something America is apparently unwilling to do: create a system where companies actually have to compete, driving prices down, instead of protecting a few companies from keeping their oligarchy over the 'net. America should strive for that type of universal access and affordability, borrowing the same ideas that made it possible elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

"We don’t let profits dictate who has running water and whose lights are on in America"

What nonsense! Try not paying your water or electric bill, and see how long they stay on!

Ryan Adams said...

Point taken on electricity, but water (at least the water I pay for) is a public good and relatively expensive.

Sadly, nothing in life is truly free - even if it's a free sample. There are associated costs and risks with everything. The trick is to make things work for society and make them affordable. I'd imagine $30 dollars for cable/phone/broadband internet, like they pay in France, would still be enough to keep some people away... but at least it would be widely affordable, given that most people are paying a lot more for less services currently.

Ryan Adams said...

*relatively inexpensive.

Anonymous said...

You're getting it Ryan, nothing in life is truly free.

Laurel said...

water *is* free, anonymous. you are free and welcome to collect your own rainwater, drill a well on your property or dip into the local lake. what you are paying for in your water bill is the infrastructure you enjoy that brings the clean and safe water directly into your home. so, even a not-for-profit city water utility will necessarily have costs. when you ask for city water, you are actually asking for a complex service, not just the water itself.

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