Comcast Bill of Rights unnecessary in open source world

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

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All 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.