By James Carlini
A pragmatic, visionary perspective —–
We cannot restrict competition and protect the obsolete cash cows of a few, and jeopardize the economic viability of a nation.
The FCC passing their policy on Net Neutrality doesn’t do what many people think it does. It does NOT promote free speech or protect freedom, if anything, it adds a good amount of government restrictions under the guise of “regulation”.
Carriers like AT&T and Verizon have the best lobbying groups out of any company or special interest group knocking on doors in Washington DC to “protect their interests.” Do you REALLY think the FCC would promote and pass something not in AT&T’s best interest?
What about government-imposed restrictions on what THEY feel is good or bad? Some would say, “No way,” with this administration. How many would say, “No way,” under the previous Bush administration? All of a sudden, it doesn’t seem so cut-and-dried, does it?
TWO VERY DIFFERENT VIEWS FOR WHAT NET NEUTRALITY IS
FREEDOM OF SPEECH OR THE RESTRICTION OF IT? Two articles, one pro policy and the other against it, paint very different pictures of what “Net Neutrality” really does to the Internet. On one hand, you have the ACLU describing what “could happen” if these regulations are not adopted (https://www.aclu.org/net-neutrality#abuses1 ).
On the other hand, you have the WND discussing how the way it was crafted and who has influence on it, the huge negatives of putting in place regulations and restrictions that can be misused and misapplied (http://www.wnd.com/2015/03/net-neutrality-obamas-gateway-to-censorship/ )
People are so polarized today, if you ask them which article is more accurate, you would get some siding with the ACLU and some siding with WND. Neither article, discusses the infrastructure and that is where our global Platform for Commerce for economic development and regional sustainability resides on.
RESTRICTING AND REGULATING INFRASTRUCTURE CAN BACKFIRE
If we are going to be writing policies and setting strategic directions, we better look at our global competition and see what they are doing. The development of the internet was OUR economic innovation, not China’s, or Europe’s, or South Korea’s. They are seeing the full potential. Are we?
We need to insure the intelligent infrastructure carrying that layer of infrastructure, which is key for global electronic commerce, is not only protected, but encouraged to expand both in speed and innovative capabilities. That type of economic accelerator is key for regional sustainability and regional viability.
Restrictions and regulatory channeling of companies and municipalities do not promote building out higher speed infrastructure or innovating new ideas. Regulations have a tendency to protect special interests and provide a nice formal mechanism to deny innovation, economic development, competitive expansion, and if used incorrectly or maliciously, freedom of speech.
This can easily be proven by looking at layers of infrastructure of the past. Back after the Civil War, St. Louis was a more prominent and larger city than Chicago. (See chart below from Location Location Connectivity)
St. Louis was “lobbied” by the riverboat captains to restrict the new layer of infrastructure (the Railroads) from coming into town because they were afraid that they would lose some market share to the railroads and they wanted to protect their cash cows.
How a bad decision stagnated a city’s economy
The politicians succumbed to the lobbying efforts of the incumbent riverboat captains and wrote restrictive legislation banning the railroads from crossing the Mississippi and coming into St. Louis. They were told, “It would be good for St. Louis.”
By their action, the St. Louis politicians stagnated the growth of St. Louis for decades to come. The railroads, looking for a different location for their regional hub, went up to Chicago and developed it there instead.
Within 25 years (by 1890) Chicago had surpassed the size of St. Louis, more than doubling its size, and became the Midwest powerhouse of economic growth and strength due to the added layer of infrastructure used to accelerate regional economic development and viability.
Putting restrictions on layers of infrastructure can restrain growth and stagnate the local economy. St. Louis never recovered its prominence.
Proclaiming the addition of restrictions will actually help economic growth rings hollow when you look at examples like this where it has been tried.
WHAT IS REALLY NEEDED TO SUSTAIN AMERICA’s NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE?
THE NEED FOR SPEED What the government should be encouraging and promoting is the build-out of the network infrastructure so that it can sustain the growth and demands for ultra-high speeds of the near future.
The FCC’s definition of “Broadband” (30 Megabits per second) is so out-of-touch, it’s not even laughable – it’s sad. I have been promoting “Broadband” as anything at 1 Gigabit per second and above for more than several years. We have already built-out next-generation real estate which has 40 Gbps coming in from various network carriers and is being updated to 100Gbps (with 400Gbps coming soon as an upgrade)
It HAS to be at least 1 Gbps to the end-user if we are to implement 5G Networks by the 2020 to support the growth of wireless devices going from 10,000,000,000 today to 50,000,000,000 to 75,000,000,000 (or more) by the year 2020. We need to start upgrading a LOT to fiber optics and the cost is big because it is a huge investment to add real speed to our infrastructure.
We should be looking at multi-gigabit speeds for individuals (1-3Gbps) and corporate end-users (100-400Gbps). Terabit speeds should already be in the planning stages for backbone networks for 2020. Capacities need to be greatly increased over current network capabilities.
SO GET RID OF THE ORSON WELLES MENTALITY Some of the incumbent phone companies have a strategic attitude like the old Gallo Wine commercials where Orson Welles would say, “We won’t sell any wine until WE think it’s time.”
The phone companies don’t upgrade their network facilities and offer ultra-high speeds until THEY feel it’s time. That is a threat to our national economic security.
We cannot wait for them to decide whether or not they should increase network speeds (which in many cases means upgrading copper to fiber optics) in different regions. If they cannot do it or don’t want to do it, they should NOT be trying to get competitors restricted out of the territories they do not want to invest in. The carriers waste tens of millions of dollars trying to keep out competitors instead of applying that money to strategic network upgrades. Should we be encouraging this or encouraging competition to add speed and capabilities to bolster economic viability?
These are the discussions which need to take place. Regional economic viability in a world market is still dependent on the Platform for Commerce – the infrastructure. And the latest layer of that infrastructure is broadband connectivity. Let’s not restrict it, let’s insure that it is the best it can possibly be.
CARLINI-ISM: You cannot restrict network infrastructure when it is so key to local economic viability and regional sustainability in a global marketplace.
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Copyright 2015 – James Carlini