net neutrality update

1. National Day of Out(r)age 5/24/2006
Access to communication systems is vital for a functioning democracy. While there has been much activity on the issue in the blogosphere and in academic writing, the net neutrality movement has lacked a general public presence. saveaccess.org aims to put an end to that, by organizing the National Day of Out(r)age, Wednesday, May 24. With demonstrations in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco, they are pushing for network neutrality, enforcing privacy of the public’s communication, telco lobby reform, and limits to the telco industry consolidation. If you care about these as we do, make your voice known.
2. What exactly are we arguing for?
On a related topic, Susan Crawford (cyberlaw expert and one of our favorite thinkers on net neutrality) gives a good definition of net neutrality on a recent blog post. Always able to keep the big picture in focus, she notes the problem with defining net neutrality as “treating all VoIP alike, all video alike, and all blogs alike,” is that someone (i.e. broadband providers) still need to look at packets. She prefers a definition where bandwidth is “treated like a utility, unbundled and open to competition, and speeds are much higher and costs are much lower.”
3. Changes to the wireless landscape are coming:
Yesterday, Crawford also linked to an article in Business Week, on the upcoming government auction of more of the wireless spectrum. New comers to wireless such as, Intel, Microsoft, TimeWarner, and News Corp have been rumored to be among the interested parties of the sale of the largest block of the wireless spectrum in history. As well, smaller entities, such as Clearwire (headed by Craig McCaw, who started McCaw Celluar and eventually sold it to AT&T) and Leap Wireless are reported to be involved. A possible result could be a re-direction of the trend of consolidation, by introducing new players with potential new services. The auction is set to start on June 29, 2006, however the effects will only be known much later.

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