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What open source should tell the FCC

What has happened in this last decade is that we allowed private monopolists to become the government. Government should go back to performing its legitimate role, setting the rules of the road, assuring that competition is a continuous process, and adjudicating disputes.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

The Federal Communications Commission is seeking comment on a natonal broadband plan, with detailed rules expected next year. (To the right, incoming FCC chair Julius Genachowski.)

What should those who follow open source and the Internet values behind it be telling the agency?

My own wish list is pretty simple.

  1. Guarantee competition. We lack broadband because we lack competition. You can't force monopolies to do what's right. As it was with the banks so with the telcos. Break 'em up.
  2. Open the Spectrum. We need more open spectrum, in which rules are defined by equipment and enforced upon equipment makers, rather than closed spectrum where monopolies act as the government and innovators must ask permission.
  3. Free the bits. Moore's Law as applied to radios or fiber implies we should have abundant broadband right now. We don't because monopolists are holding those bits for ransom. They claim they are doing the will of content companies, yet those companies too are being shaken down.

What has happened in this last decade is that we allowed private monopolists to become the government. Government should go back to performing its legitimate role, setting the rules of the road, assuring that competition is a continuous process, and adjudicating disputes.

The danger in this call is that every special interest will come in with special pleading, and that the general interest will be drowned out. That interest is for more -- more capacity, more competition, more freedom for individuals and innovators.

Crime can occur on many levels and we need cops on every beat. It can happen on the streets, in the suites, wherever corruption is allowed to frustrate law enforcement.

Government should be limited, but it must exist, or anarchy rules. That is the essential lesson of our time. We need light rules, rooted in technology, enforced as easily and lightly as possible.

That's how we'll get the most broadband.

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