Net Neutrality: How San Francisco Could Create Its Own “Open Internet” Island

Logo of the United States Federal Communicatio...

Logo of the United States Federal Communications Commission, used on their website and some publications since the early 2000s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leasing fiber to service providers is the right idea, but most cities that have fiber in the ground have it in limited areas. The big cost of building broadband networks that tends to be overlooked is running the fiber down every residential street to every home. I know cities with about 100,000 residents that have as much fiber as San Francisco, and they are a long way off from offering it to anyone.

All of the supposed throngs of people chanting for government control of the Internet don’t remember the Bell System days when they only had one dial telephone in the house. When you let the government control and regulate and industry, you get the lowest common denominator of service. We are seeing that with the ACA.

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 7:09 AM

President Obama created a seismic wave in the blogosphere after taking a bullish stance on net neutrality Monday, urging the FCC to adopt a strict set of rules for cable service providers. Companies shouldn’t be allowed to wantonly block off websites, Obama argued, and they shouldn’t be allowed to charge fees for priority access (what’s known in the business as “an Internet fast lane”).¬†

It seemed like a huge blow to the four major carriers that currently control our Internet portals (Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Charter Communications), and a victory for consumers. Finally, the FCC had political cover to serve the public interest.

But there’s still no telling which way the commission might rule. Shortly after Obama issued his two-minute statement championing an open and free Internet, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler¬†replied with a noncommittal statement of his own, in which he stressed that his agency doesn’t operate at the president’s behest. (That said, he promised to take Obama’s opinion into consideration, along with thousands of other public comments.)

So, there’s a glimmering possibility that the agency might not rule in favor of an open Internet. And even if it does side with Obama, consumers are still left with the fundamental problem of a small group of companies controlling a critical resource.

“We have to realize that net neutrality is not a silver bullet, when it comes to giving consumers freedom,” Electronic Frontier Foundation activist April Glaser says.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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