Tales of the Sausage Factory

The Tiered Internet and “Virtual Redlining”

If Senator Stevens or Representatives Rush and Wynn ever thought about the impact of “tiered access” (or, as I prefer, Whitacre tiering) on rural areas and minority communities, they’d probably switch their votes. Because the flip side of charging for “premium” access is that the third party has to want to pay for it.

If you are a big company, will you pay extra to reach “undesirable” customers like rural customers or minority communities? Of course not! If you have to negotiate with every ISP for premium access, you are only going to want to pay for the “good” customers. And happily, because the ISP is under no requirement to protect customer privacy, the ISP can provide you with precisely the right target demographic.

Welcome to the new world of “Virtual Redlining.” Made possible by Senator Stevens, Bobby Rush and Al Wynn. I hope they have fun explaining to their constituents why, even when they buy the “high speed” pipe, their content downloads slower than the exact same content in the nice neighborhoods of NYC and LA.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Stevens Bill IV –The Bad Stuff (Network Neutrality)

Finally, we get to this week’s big enchilada, Network Neutrality (or “NN,” as we policy wonks like to call it when we type it over and over and over again).

Many have opposed the Communications Enhancement Act of 2006 (COPE) because it would limit FCC authority to prevent abuses of market power by the few broadband ISPs in control of the “last mile”. Well, the Stevens Bill would not just limit FCC authority, it would eliminate it altogether. A dream for the telcos, cable cos and my opposite numbers at Progress and Freedom Foundation, a nightmare for the rest of us.

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Stevens Bill III– The Bad Stuff (Munibroadband)

The Stevens Bill contains a section called “Municipal Broadband” (Title V) and calls itself the “Community Broadband Act of 2006.” Given that that McCain and Lautenberg introduced a pro-munibroadband bill in 2005 called “The Community Boradband Act of 2005,” and that the House overwhelmingly adopted language identical to the McCain-Lautenberg language in COPE, you might think that I would put Title V in the “Good Parts” section.

GOTCHA! That clever Senator Stevens, who apparently has confused the definition of “competition” and “cartel” (Hey, they both begin with “C”! He’s old! Give the man a break!), has tricked you! Like predators in nature that camoflage themselves to look like pretty flowers before they SPRING UPON THEIR HELPLESS PREY AND DEVOUR THEM, The Stevens “Community Broadband Act” will allow local governments to give gobs of money to private companies, but will not allow local governments to do something as outrageous as compete with private companies.

Impressed? Amazed? Astounded? Well see below . . . .

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Tales of the Sausage Factory

Stevens Bill Analysis Part I — The Good Parts (Unlicensed Spectrum and Program Access)

Senator Stevens (R-AK), Chair of the Senate Commerce Committee, has introduced a massive telecom bill. The ten sections of the Communications, Consumer Choice, and Broadband Deployment Act of 2006 (helpfully broken down into separately named acts) covers a variety of material from subsidies for troops calling home to Return of the Broadcast Flag. As a consequence, I’ve broken up my analysis into a bunch of different postings.

Below, I talk about the two good things in the Stevens Bill, “The Wireless Innovation (WIN) Act of 2006,” (Title VI of the stevens Bill) and the “Sports Freedom Act of 2006” (Title IV Subtitle A).

In Part II, I will hit the really awful stuff on municipal broadband, network neutrality and broadcast flag.

This skips a bunch on local franchising, PEG, universal service, interoperability of emergency equipment, telephone rates for military personnel deployed abroad. I may come back to these if I can, but other folks, such as Saveaccess.org are doing a good job covering these issues and I also need to do my day job.

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