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Killing Internet Innovation

By 8 October 2010 2 Comments

There’s been a lot of talk, lately, about how the government should “promote innovation” by regulating the Internet through “net neutrality” prescriptions.  I’ve commented on that here in relation to the book Larry Lessig’s protégé, Barbara van Schewick wrote suggesting that what she describes as the current “open” architecture of the Internet should be governmentally mandated.

The problem is there are a whole lot of other ways to do things, and Apple, with the iPhone, Amazon, with the Kindle and the like prove the point. It’s not theory, or a “hunch” as to what will create innovation; the current “app” explosion and the move to “e-readers” were triggered by broadband architectures which are now being denigrated as “managed services” that should be banned.

Some newly announced services like “Box Top” which proposes to provide Broadband access to television sets for free, in other words they will pay the ISP delivery charges rather than the consumer, totally break the current mold and are certainly innovative, but would be prohibited under the strict “net neutrality” schemes being proposed.

That the government has deterred, rather than promoted innovation should not come as a surprise. A newly published article in the New Technology Policy Forum at FT.com by former FCC Chief Economist Tom Hazlett spells out the disastrous history of spectrum use and how its likely to continue with the new “WiFi on Steroids” rules. He calls them “WiFi on a walker” instead. Take a look. It’s worth considering what’s actually happening and the history of what has happened before regulating based on theory.