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Looking for Non-Existant Problems to Solve

August 3, 2010 10:30:32.096

Sometimes, the network neutrality advocates baffle me. Take today's post from David Weinberger, where he says (in part - follow the link for his entire post):

It’s time for Genachowski to stand firm and act at the FCC. He has a vision for the Internet as a place where small voices speak and where new ideas get a fair chance. He understands the Internet as a potentially transformative force in culture, business, education, and democracy.

I just don't see the supposed problem. Anyone can get a free or cheap site - blog or otherwise. People with some technical skills can get inexpensive hosting (like the one I use here) and run whatever kind of server they feel like. This one runs on Smalltalk, because that's what I like.

How about Video and Audio? Well, there are more solutions in that direction than I can count. YouTube, Vimeo, Mevio all come to mind immediately, as does Facebook. Photos? Flickr and a ton of other services.

Given all that, what the heck is the problem that requires some kind of forceful response from a government agency? A "small voice" can be heard much more easily now than at any time in history. The main impediement isn't scarcity; it's actually finding a niche where you can stand out from the huge crowd.

I just can't figure out what Weinberger wants the FCC to do, because I can't see the problem he's clearly agitated about.

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posted by James Robertson


Re: Looking for Non-Existant Problems to Solve

[anonymous] August 3, 2010 11:25:23.834

From skimming over the articles, it sounds to me like the problem they are talking about is broadband availability and that is a real issue since a lot of people still don't have access to high speed internet. So they are talking about a hardware issue, not a software service issue. Try uploading a video on a low speed internet connection. I do have a DSL internet connection (1.5 Mbit) but it still takes me an hour to upload 70 Mb, thanks to asynchronous DSL being used here in Germany where your download speed is decent but your upload speed is horrible. And if you use up all your upload speed, you can't use the internet until it's finished, you just get a lot of timeouts on websites. You can use tools to limit your upload speed for certain apps of course, or use a DSL driver with better traffic shaping, but it still takes ages to upload something and most people probably don't even know about those kind of tools.

The idea here is, as I understand it, to make it cheaper for providers to provide broadband access to everyone by using long range wireless technologies instead of land lines. The german Telekom told me for example that I won't get faster and more reliable internet in a thousand years because it isn't commercially viable for them to replace the half a century old land lines in a village this small. With long range wireless technologies like WiMax, they could just put a tower in one of the big cities near me, problem solved.

Now why they want a government agency to do something is because the government decides who can use which wireless frequencies for what purpose, so it is a government issue that has to be solved by the government.

Re: Looking for Non-Existant Problems to Solve

[James Robertson] August 3, 2010 11:52:05.104

The problem with that approach is that it usually results in obsolete solutions being installed. The few times metropolitan areas have tried to install ubiquitous WiFi in the US, for instance, they ended up with an installed base of Wireless B, while G (and later N) took off. You ended up being better off at Starbucks than with the "free" solution.

The same thing will happen again, because the same forces will come into play. I hate to sound cold about it, but if people decide to live in relatively isolated areas, they need to put up with the downsides they get. No one forces anyone to live out in the middle of nowhere. You have to weigh the pros and cons of that, and decide appropriately.

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