Weinberger: Delaminate the bastard telcos!

On the eve of the Federal Trade Commission's abandonment of Net Neutrality, David "Everything is Miscellaneous" Weinberger has this essay, "Delamination Now!
How to keep the Internet
from going the way of
the Princess Phone."

The Net Neutrality fight is over whether carriers like AT&T should be allowed to charge us three times for our Internet connections. Right now, we pay twice. In the example of Boing Boing, you pay for your Internet connection and we pay for our Internet connection. In the net discrimination world, carriers like AT&T would be able to degrade your connection to Boing Boing unless we paid a fee for "premium service" for the carrier to send you the Internet stuff you ask for.

In Weinberger's essay, he argues that the only solution to Net Neutrality is to kill the carriers' traditional business-model of making profit by selling additional services on their networks — to "delaminate" carriers, separating providers of bits from providers of services.

Carriers are gigantic corporate welfare bums. They receive an enormous state subsidy in the form of a right of way that gets them into every household in America. Imagine if the location of every tunnel, pole, and line had to be contracted for and paid for separately — the carriers would go bust.

I say, if the telcos don't want to use our largesse to benefit us, let's take all that lovely right of way back again. Buy out their wires at a fair market price and give their state monopoly on right of way to someone who wants to earn a profit in the public interest — not by using our connections to bilk network service providers out of "premium service" fees.

Delaminate the bastards. The only way to get Net Neutrality with teeth is by changing the business models of the businesses providing us with access. Peel apart the layers like a piece of rotting plywood.

The first layer will be for companies that want to provide access to the Internet. We'll pay them to let us attach a computer, cell phone or any other device – even a Princess Phone, once we get it all VoIPed up – to the Internet and begin to send and receive bits. As many bits as we want. All bits treated equally. The companies can compete over price, bandwidth, uptime, and other properties of the network.

The upper layer will be for companies that want to provide content and services using the Internet.

The health of these two layers is reciprocal: Customers will use more bits because there are more services and content available to them in the next layer. There will be more services and content because the market now has lots of bandwidth, enough to handle new types of applications.