So I'll build your road, and you'll pay me each month to use it. I'll even let the government decide how much. Then, once it's built, it's mine. I'll decide what you drive, how much you pay, where you can go and how fast.
This is precisely the deal we've made in our time with the phone and cable duopolists. Those lines were built under regulation, under rates set by the government, in exchange for public goods like right-of-way and exclusivity.
When we knew improvements were needed to deliver broadband, a decade ago, these same companies made big promises, $200 billion worth in the case of the phone monopolists. Where's the money? In their pockets, due to accounting shell games, and their own acquisitions of one another. Where are the services? In your dreams.
All this matters to open source, as I've said, because the open source business model rides on the Internet, and depends upon it. A fair, free and fast Internet will allow more open source innovation, especially in the consumer space.
So now we're told by Verizon, AT&T and Comcast that this Internet we paid for is "theirs," that "they" own it, and that "they" have the right to tell us how much of it we'll get, what we'll pay, even where we'll go.
We even have a view of the future they desire for us, in mobile. They tell us what equipment we can use, what sites we can see, and they take a rake-off on everything we do. What Apple is being attacked over is the AT&T Wireless business model.
The plain fact is there is no technical barrier to doubling or tripling residential broadband speeds, at a stroke. Take voice, which is a low-bandwidth service, off an ADSL line and it can move at 7 MBPS. Add some more channels to two-way cable Internet and you can triple those speeds, too.
OK, maybe you need to bring fiber switching into more offices. There's plenty of room, and the equipment purchases are good for the economy. Here, AT&T, I'll buy it and rent back the capacity to you. Deal?
If we have a broadband Internet moving at even 10 MBPS, there is no longer any voice network, no longer any "cable television." Voice services will be free to evolve and any video content provider will be able to find their audience. The way will be clear to Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 and Web 5.0 services, with plenty of growth for everyone.
But we can't have any of that, because the phone and cable duopolists insist, we made that deal at the top. The Internet belongs to them. It's their property. They will do what they want with it, and you'll take it.
My question is simple. For how long?