Tim Wu, the Columbia law professor who coined the term "Net Neutrality," is running for Lieutenant Governor of New York State on a leftist, reform platform that starts with blocking the Comcast/Time-Warner merger. Wu wrote The Master Switch, a brilliant 2010 novel on the history of networks and competition in America, and his paper Copyright's Communications Policy is a classic.
I've known Tim for more than 30 years; we went to the same small alternative elementary school in Toronto together. I rate him as one of the best thinkers and activists on these issues around and wish him the best of luck. If I were a New York voter, he'd have my vote.
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Yesterday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the FCC's Open Internet Rules. These were the closest thing to a set of Net Neutrality rules America had: rules that were supposed to ensure that ISPs fetched you the data you asked for without prejudice, rather than giving preference to the companies that had bribed them for faster access to you.
But these rules sucked
As David Isenberg points out, the Open Internet Rules were drafted to be as inoffensive to great and powerful companies as possible. They were toothless, nearly pointless rules that turned their backs on "500 years of common law and a deep corpus of case law."
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Alan Wexelblat sez, "Baratunde Thurston is generally known as a humorist, not a net.activist, but here he gives a concise and remarkably non-technical explanation of what net neutrality is and what it means for the average person."
Baratunde Thurston explains net neutrality
A lot of people were frustrated in 2011 when the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill written by Time Warner Cable to revoke local authority to build community-owned networks. A new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and Common Cause explains how Time Warner Cable, AT&T, and CenturyLink bought their bill.
In the two years since, the big companies have refused to invest in better networks and AT&T just announced layoffs for some call center workers. Meanwhile, the state is tied with Mississippi for last place in the US in the number of households subscribing to at least a "basic broadband connection" according to the FCC. Perhaps these decisions should be made locally and not by corporate lobbyists?
The Empire Lobbies Back: Killing Broadband Competition in NC
The happy mutants at MonkeyBrains, the San Francisco hacker-friendly ISP, have launched a $350,000,000 IndieGoGo campaign to buy their own satellite ("North Korea just launched a satellite; we want to as well"). Some fun facts about MonkeyBrains: it was founded by Rudy Rucker, Jr (son of the archduke of mutantcy, cyberpunk writer Rudy Rucker [Sr]); it is the basis for the fictional ISP pigspleen.net in my novel Little Brother; and they want $350,000,000. Also: if the satellite thing doesn't work out, they want to use the money to fill San Francisco with high-speed fiber optics that aren't run by crappy telcos.
A quick internet search reveals that this is the cost for getting a satellite into orbit:
Satellite manufacture: $150M
Satellite launch: $120M
Launch insurance: $20M
In-orbit insurance: $20M
Satellite operations (15 years): $15M
Our initial research seems to indicate having a satellite in orbit may not speed up your internet at all. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Internet_access#Geostationary_unsuitable_for_low-latency_applications]. However, if more research doesn't bode well for a geostationary satellite, we will take all of the $325M to fund either:
Fiber to the home.
A balloon tethered to the Farallon islands.
a hovering drone over the Bay.