Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

Summary: Opening a market up, enabling new market paradigms to develop, is far preferable. As we've seen with open source, it even works.


Comcast logoAll the brouhaha concerning whether Comcast can create a "Bill of Rights and Responsibilities" for Internet users is misplaced.

Like any small Wireless ISP, Comcast has the right, indeed the responsibility, to manage its network so every customer gets as much of it as practical.

But customers should also have a very clear right to take their business elsewhere if they don't like the terms and conditions being offered.

The problem is that right now we don't.

The result of the market having been broken is that Comcast can impose whatever rules it wants, can even lie about what the rules are, and customers have no recourse.

A decade ago we faced something similar with the Microsoft monopoly. Government sought to impose a solution, and even now we may argue whether the desktop market remains captive to Microsoft's whims.

But at the same time a solution appeared. Open source. It's not just a market alternative. It's an alternate paradigm.

Vast parts of the market have been restored to functioning. Microsoft must now actively compete for the server market, the enterprise market, even the applications market. Everyone benefitted from that. I would argue even Microsoft benefitted.

An identical solution is available in this case. Open spectrum, and open access to the backhaul market.

We've seen how it works in WiFi. Open up more spectrum -- say in the "white space" between the old TV channels -- and you'll see even more progress.

I mention open access to the backhaul market not because we have a monopoly, but because the dominance of Verizon and AT&T in that space means we could have. And because a competitive backhaul market is important.

There really are just two ways to get a diseased market working again. You can regulate it or you can open it up. Regulation means an unrelenting fight among the regulated, the regulator and the market. As we've had at the FCC for many deades.

Opening a market up, enabling new market paradigms to develop, is far preferable. As we've seen with open source, it even works.

Topics: Open Source, Microsoft

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  • It is clear there are not adequate...

    alternatives in the broadband market. The capitalism principals we have in place are based on perfect economies. There is no such thing as a perfect economy. This is why the HAS to be government regulations to level the playing field.

    It's true that the ideal solution would be a perfect economy and no regulations but that is simply not realistic.

    Broadband providers need to be forced to increase the capacity of their infrastructures to accommodate the amount of traffic that we have in the real world.

    POTS had to keep up with growing demand and it was done in a regulated environment. In reality, this is the only way that Internet infrastructure will be made to keep up with the growing demand. It's just the reality of it.
    • No such thing as perfect competition...

      ...but the more open the markets, the less regulation is required to prevent abuses (think analog, not digital). Dana's basic thesis is correct.
      John L. Ries
    • You're right...antitrust is regulation

      I would much rather have regulatory regimes which work in concert with market forces than which try to work against them.

      Antitrust is such a mechanism. You prevent competition from reaching the "climax state" of monopoly, or burn out the monopoly (as a forest fire burns a swamp, restoring it, or a redwood forest, allowing new shoots to germinate).

      Monopolists don't like antitrust regulation. They prefer to have a detailed, results-oriented regime they can manipulate.
  • RE: Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

    You fail to mention that their are alternatives to Comcast like DSL/Fiber to the home from the phone companies, Satellite and in areas that have it municipal wifi you can even for a single pc get a Wireless card from the Cell phone companies and use that.

    Though I do agree that an open unregulated market is the way to go, or even require that the cable companies open their lines up to competition as was done with the phone companies and DSL.
    • This is not always true.

      I have a branch office in DuQuion, IL and there is no DSL service to this site. And please don't compare satellite to any wired service. I have yet to find one dependable or fast enough to service my VPN connections.
      • It sure isn't

        You don't have to go to DuQuoin for no service. I have two clients in densely populated inner suburbs of Chicago who can not get DSL service; their lines to the CO were laid long before DSL, and "The New AT&T", the new name for the old reigning telopoly, has no motivation to insert a repeater thanks to the absolute lack of competition. One has Comcast shared cable in an office building when it works, and the other is in an industrial park that can not even get Comcast's unreliable service. Cell modems are OK for many laptops, but they're not designed to connect a LAN to the Internet, and my client in the industrial park that can't get DSL or Comcast is in a metal building that blocks cell microwaves. Maybe some day there will be WiMAX or 700MHz cell service, but what can we do now?
  • RE: Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

    2008 Fiber To The Home Conference & Expo September 21 - 25, 2008 Gaylord Opryland? Resort & Convention Center, Nashville, TN --
  • RE: Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

    I'd be glad to see the market opened up... heck burst that thing wide open...if you can do it EVERYWHERE, not just huge cities.... I need it in places of 100k people or more. (or go for broke...10k people or more)
  • RE: Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

    "Deades?" Doesn't Dana have spell check?
  • RE: Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

    #1 their 'management' of their network is at the expense of the bandwidth that WE PAID FOR. If comcast would just stop overselling their bandwidth, promising 6mb and delivering 3, then this wouldn't be as big an issue people are making it.

    #2 Their 'bill of rights' is nothing more than 'Terms of Service' which they've shown they will CHANGE without notice such as during the FCC hearing and then act confused when confronted with it.

    So what I see this coming to is;
    Comcast has the right to sell you one service, reduce it to another, simply because they refuse to delivery what they promised.

    This bandwidth issue wouldn't be a problem if they weren't already providing sub-par service to many areas. If they sell you a 10mb package, then why should you be punished for USING THAT BANDWIDTH.

    Riddle me THAT, Batman!