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The Internet Government

To Save the Internet We Need To Own the Means of Distribution 338

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-might-be-a-communist-if dept.
indros13 (531405) writes "Net neutrality took a hit when the FCC gave its blessing to "Internet fast lanes' last week and one commentator believes that the solution is simple: public ownership of the hardware. 'Owning the means of distribution is a traditional function of local government. We call our roads and bridges and water and sewer pipe networks public infrastructure for a reason. In the 19th century local and state governments concluded that the transportation of people and goods was so essential to a modern economy that the key distribution system must be publicly owned. In the 21st century the transportation of information is equally essential.'

Is the Internet essential infrastructure? Should local governments step in to preserve equality of access?"
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To Save the Internet We Need To Own the Means of Distribution

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  • Re:Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by njnnja (2833511) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @08:25AM (#46866765)

    Yes, but...

    The question of whether the Internet is essential infrastructure that should be run as a public utility does not resolve the question of net neutrality. It simply changes the process by which the question gets resolved.

    In fact, if the internet was run as a public utility, I think that it would be less likely to support net neutrality, for 2 reasons. First, net neutrality tends to level the playing field between large companies and small start ups. However, large companies tend to have much more political power than smaller companies, so if the question of net neutrality was determined purely in the political realm then net neutrality opponents would appear to have an advantage.

    Second, net neutrality tends to favor content owners over distribution channels. If content owners were still private companies, but the distribution channel was publicly owned, I think the public would tend to side more with giving power to the publicly owned internet utility companies and demand that companies like Disney or Google or What's App pay to play.

    However, in a world where the benefits of getting rid of net neutrality went to your local city instead of, say, Comcast, the decisionmaking calculus of whether net neutrality is a good idea or not might change substantially.

  • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @08:30AM (#46866805)

    I'll add to your sentiments by pointing out that at the local level business is often steered to the old boys' network. The Mayor's golf buddy gets the contract for the line maintenance, the councilman's brother-in-law gets the billing contract, etc. And the new guy in town who has a great business that competes with them has loads of trouble with the permitting process and the zoning board.

    At every level, power corrupts. Even if most folks are basically good people trying to do the right thing, the constant pressure of vested interests trying to use that power to their benefit tends to move things in an unfair direction.

    I tried to reform some of the IT processes in our local government - it was highly fragmented and inefficient - and got no interest at all. I finally talked to someone who had a little insight into the problem - he pointed out just how many different businesses had contracts with all these little agencies and offices. So if you try to upset that apple cart you'll have all of those small business owners complaining to their councilmen about how they are being negatively affected. Nobody is agitating on the other side at all. (well, except me). So the chance of fixing the problem is pretty much exactly zero.

  • Re:Yes, totally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jhon (241832) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @09:00AM (#46867023) Homepage Journal

    No I mean like the 90 years it'll currently take to repair the sidewalks of Los Angeles. Or the potholes in the roads and highways causing residents to sue city and state to repair car damages. Or the bursting of 100 year old water pipes that haven't been maintained.

    Yes ... "far far far" more accountability at the local government level.

  • Re:Yes, totally (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @09:07AM (#46867089)

    You mean like the incentive to fix broken privatized railroads in the UK?

  • Re:Yes, totally (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning.netzero@net> on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @09:42AM (#46867401) Homepage Journal

    The key is local control. I live in a city where the municipal government owns the power company. While there certainly is some local corruption and some problems with how politically correct the investment into electricity generation facilities happens (for example, investing in a solar & wind farm instead of a coal plant... you may even agree with the decision of the municipal government on this issue), it really does help that the local "board of directors" for the power company has to face a general election every four years among ordinary voters.

    I certainly prefer this arrangement for a power company than what neighboring cities deal with, where I seriously doubt that the board of directors for that company has even heard of those towns in the first place (and happens to be Warren Buffet with his Berkshire Hathaway company). Given the alternatives, I really do like the local control much better.

  • Re:Yes, totally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @09:53AM (#46867493)

    How is meaningful competition possible when digging up the road to install conduit more than once is cost prohibitive?

    Obvious solution: public conduit, private fiber. Dig up the street once. Put in a conduit about 6" in diameter. That is enough for thousands of fibers. Then let any bonded business run fiber through the conduit.

    The government should own the roads, not the trucks.

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell