The Internet must not be proprietary

A network defined by a single owner is not the Internet. Only choice and competition enable the Internet we've come to love for over a decade to function.

atrios magic pony
There is an important lesson which can be drawn as a string through a host of recent stories, from Comcast and Cox Cable throttling BitTorrent to Verizon doing the SiteFinder thing to  depredations concerning the iPhone and open spectrum.

The Internet must not be proprietary.

The whole idea of the Internet is that it's a network of networks in which competition is assured. When anyone tries to close down progress, consumers are able to route around it.

What began with the network spread to software in the form of open source. The two are linked. The end of the software monopoly is tied directly to the end of the network monopoly. Recreate the latter and you can recreate the former.

But the big stories of this year all show that network monopolies are coming back, at least in the U.S. If I want to dump Comcast as my home ISP, my only choice is AT&T.

That's no choice.

A network defined by a single owner is not the Internet. Only choice and competition enable the Internet we've come to love for over a decade to function.

I hate to repeat that it was political choices, deliberately made, which allowed this to occur. We chose to let AT&T be recreated. We chose to treat spectrum as property rather than a commons.

We can make other choices. 

There's a belief, which I sometimes share, that Google will ride to the rescue of the competitive Internet, buying the 700 MHz spectrum and opening it up to competition.

The name given such thinking, when applied to Iraq, or politics generally, where we expect someone to rescue us and let that be the excuse not to take action ourselves?

It's called a magic pony plan.

So here's your pony. Just a few words of warning.

It's not real.