After Blair Levin’s warning to the world (and the financial markets in particular) that the stimulus package will not try to solve the broadband problems in this country and that people needed to stop dreaming in the tens or even hundreds of billions for broadband, no one should be surprised at today’s announcement that the Administration/House proposal budgets $6 Billion for broadband primarily in the form of grants. (Obey press release on full package here.)
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About a year ago, I gave a speech to the ACLU called Outsourcing Big Brother. In it I argued that a big problem with consolidation in the media and telecommuniations industries is that it facilitates a partnership between big government and big business in which we, as citizens, lose.
Yesterday’s revelation in USA Today provides yet another chilling reminder of why we need to embed principles like network neutrality and competition into law, and vigorously defend them if we care about our civil liberties.
As I keep saying, since the telcos and cable cos and others keep wanting to frame it this way, Network Neutrality isn’t AT&T v. Microsoft. Yes, the economics matter, and, as I’ve said before, I think abolishing NN is a disasterous economic policy. But, at the end of the day, I care because it goes to the heart of democracy and self-governance.
More below . . .
On March 31-April 2, I attended the Second National Summit for Community Wireless. It was an amazing event. The energy was unbelievable. My one regret was that I agreed to do two panels. Because the panels were so long, that meant doing two thirds of the day talking when I wanted to be attending other things and learning what was going on.
And there is plenty going on in Community Wireless. Community wireless can include a local government, or “muni wireless” component, but it doesn’t have to. At it’s best, community wireless is about empowering a local community to use the tool of wireless intra-net and inter-net to reenforce everything good about the community. If the community owns the network, and uses it to create educational, social and other opportunities the members of the community value, then community wireless works real well.
I got to give the final plenary talk. I spoke from bullet points, and got really worked up emotionally while speaking (my voice actually broke on the last few lines). My attempts to recreate my speach feel overly wordy and intellectual compared to what I actually said. But I think it is still a valuable exercise to try to capture what I said and put up somewhere people can see. Hopefully, it will do some good.
Remember, we can change the world by talking.
A big shout out to Mark Cooper — probably the most prolific and proficient writer on matters economic in the consumer and media reform movements — for putting together two new papers. One explains an economic theory of open spectrum, the other is a brief overview of the basic principles as applied to open source as well.
I shall attempt to translate from the econ speak for the unitiated, as well as explain why Cooper’s discovery/description of a phenomena called a “collaborative good” has such huge implications for public policy.
Here are my notes from the various sessions.