For the last week I've been out of pocket, inhaling data through a firehose, trying to save the Internet.
I was invited to a private mailing list by Gordon Cook, on behalf of a new e-book by Bruce Kushnick called the $200 Billion Broadband Scandal. The book describes how the Bell companies have systematically destroyed competition in the Internet access market, always promising great fiber networks just around the corner, and never delivering a thing.
Among the folks on the list are Visicalc co-founder Bob Frankston (above), Level 3 regulatory counsel Erik Cecil, Roland Cole of the Software Patent Institute, Susan Estrada of Firstmile.Us, Michael Bookey of Issaquah Vialight. There are dozens of others, all heavy-hitters, and all passionately upset over what they see as America's loss of competitiveness owing to its Internet policies.
I felt a bit like a session musician at the 9-11 Concert, Springsteen, Bono and Billy Joel waiting for me to give the downbeat. I did what I could. I launched a blog. I offered my own mix of politlcal perspective, historical analogy and overblown rhetoric. I tried to keep up, my head spinning with ideas, heart pounding, fighting to stay in touch with the intellectual peleton. Like I said, out of pocket.
What these people are saying, with some dissents, is that bandwidth should be getting cheaper, but that the Bells are squeezing it out with an eye dropper and trying to define what the bits do as services they can demand tribute for, to pay for 20 year old networks. It's as though the world is running Pentium IVs while we are forced to buy PC ATs. The world is using Moore's Law to go by us, creating technology infrastructure that's 100 times better they can deliver at a fraction of what we're paying.
All these brilliant minds and it feels sometimes like an Iraqi funeral -- the anger, the wailing, the rending of garments, the feeling of hopelessness. No marketers, no CEOs. no politicians -- just the people marketers and CEOs and politicians turn to when they're stuck, because they know.
The question is, what can we do about it? What can you do about it? You're stuck reading this on a stop-start jerky 1.5 Mbps pipe while over in Korea they're breezing along at 100 Mbps. That has to change the balance of power -- intellectual power, patent power, financial power. Yet here are our best and brightest, stuck banging our fists against a wall of unmovable political power.
It is a puzzlement.