Convergence Web/Tech

Ramblings on COPE and Net Neutrality

This afternoon, I’ll be interviewed on KUOW on the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Enhancement Act of 2006 (COPE) in general and network neutrality (I prefer to call it network discrimination) in particular.

To be honest, I had not fully investigated the bill before now — I had focused only on net neutrality. That attitude has now changed, big time. From the CBO analysis of fiscal impacts:

  • It would set up a national franchise for cable companies,
    replacing the current
    system of locally negotiated contracts.
  • The bill would preempt state and local consumer
    protection laws; preempt local government authority over municipal
    rights of way; and preempt state laws prohibiting local governments
    from offering certain services to provide Internet access.

Whoa! That’s a bigger challenge, in my opinion, than waffling on net neutrality (the bill "waffles" because it doesn’t protect neutrality: something the telecos/cable companies don’t want).


  • Why should I care about net neturality? For the same reason you don’t have to worry if you are a Qwest customer and your <parents, girlfriend, cousin, potential employer, you get the idea> isn’t … but is, instead, a customer of <Cingular, Verizon, T-Mobile, SBC, Vonage, Skype, etc>. It’s called common carrier rules — phone companies can’t discriminate! Telecos and cable companies want to be able to favor some "bits" over others.
  • What’s this two-tiered internet folks are talking about? AT&T and Verizon have stated publicly that they want to divide the net into separate fast and slow lanes. Web sites
    and services willing to pay a "toll" have their bits moved to the "fast lane," relegating others (including their competitors – remember, these are vertically integrated companies) will be shuttled off to the slow lane.
  • If it’s not neutral – it’s not the Internet … in other words, it’s a private network. Daniel Berninger. Think of it this way: Balkanized. That’s how e-mail was before SMTP — when AOL, CompuServe and Delphi customers had to have accounts at each service if they wanted to e-mail with someone — no cross-talk allowed. Kinda like IM has been for a Long Time (with notable and recent exceptions).

For Washingtonians:

  • Rep. Jay Inslee (D-1) is on the House committee (and sub-committee) which will hold hearings on the bill. Local phone: Shoreline, (206) 361-0233; Poulsbo, (360) 598-2342.
  • Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) is on the Senate committee which will consider the House bill (or finish authoring its own). Cantwell is up for re-election. Local phone:
        Everett: 425-303-0114 ; Richland: 509-946-8106 ; Seattle: 206-220-6400 ;
        Spokane: 509-353-2507 ; Tacoma: 253-572-2281 ; Vancouver: 360-696-7838


Edited to fix bizarre formatting from Typepad and to add Technorati and Gada.Be tags.

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Net Neutrality

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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