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Obama Broadband Promises Eclipsed By Telecom Lobby Dollars

Topics: Editorial & Opinion | Add A CommentBy admin | December 20, 2010

The new FCC broadband proposal is being attacked on all sides. Except perhaps by the telecom corporations that will pay millions to define it.

If this page took a long time to load, it’s probably because the FCC’s network neutrality rules – first established on December 21, 2010 – have led to your ISP’s restriction of access to dissenting voices on the topic of whether or not they took the right course on that date. I jest of course, but the fact that there’s a full lunar eclipse on the solstice coinciding with the FCC’s announcement of the adoption of new guidelines for broadband providers adds a humorously foreboding quality to the event. So what’s the big deal about this decision? Well, in a nutshell, it’s about who “controls the internet”. The key issue being whether or not providers like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon should be able to throttle traffic they don’t like, and whether they can charge certain content providers more if they feel those providers are clogging their networks. It’s also about the rapidly emerging wireless broadband industry, and whether or not these two markets should be regulated in the same way, or regulated at all. So as a typical internet user, what should your stance on the topic be? Good luck figuring that one out for the moment. Net neutrality advocates like the Save The Internet coalition are rabidly against the current proposed guidelines and explain the complicated reasons why, while the Progressive Change Campaign Committee puts things in language more people can probably understand; they’re saying don’t let Comcast block Netflix or other online innovators for their own profit. That is probably one of the most succinct statements of the stance you might want to take on this topic. The fact is that there is so much lobby money at stake here that you can tentatively assume that the rabid voices, including (love him or hate him) Al Franken, are probably right on this one. The real problem is that as citizens we don’t really know all the current facts. While a lot of the FCC proposal drafts were more or less vetted by the big telecoms that they’re meant to regulate, we don’t get the same courtesy as citizens. And the reason you’ll hear a lot of logic-twisting doublespeak like Robert McDowell’s Net Neutrality Is A Threat to Internet Freedom is probably because while you and I sit here Facebooking, downloading movies, and Skyping our lives away, AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable have collectively employed more than 60 lobby firms to make their message heard. And here’s a list of Democrats that have heard the corporate lobby message, so it’s obvious that this is not a partisan issue, or a genuine values issue, it’s a corporate interest issue. The bottom line is that if the broadband providers stay quiet on the topic, they’re probably pleased, and you and I are screwed. If you want to try and stay informed on the topic without all the extra politicians and media companies telling you what to think, there will be an Open Commission Meeting on Reboot.FCC.Gov on Tuesday morning. Of course if you’re one of the millions of Americans without broadband that we discussed back in March, you can’t watch. We’ll be back with more on this soon. That is, if we can still afford internet access.