Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Unlikely Duo

In general, I found Chapter 5 to been a good overview of the policies behind broadband and wireless even if I did get a bit lost in the spectrums and bundles. It was interesting to see the impact that Republicans had on the push to deregulate broadband and the reasons behind some of the FCC actions. It was also helpful to hear more about the debate on net neutrality and what the different opinions are.

I didn't realize the FCC had forced AT&T to maintain net neutrality for two years during its merger with Bell-South in 2006. Cowhey and Aronson write that one of the reasons was because "the Democratic FCC commissioners (wanted) to keep alive the peering issues until after the next election when Democrats might win control of the White House and Congress, and permanently change policy." (p117) Seeing as this is now the case, I wanted to see what current action had occurred on the topic.

Sure enough, just last Thursday the FCC voted to begin writing net neutrality regulations.

This led me to also check out Google's Public Policy blog and read more about their reasons behind supporting net neutrality. If you scroll down the blog a bit, there is even a joint post by the CEO of Google AND the CEO of Verizon Wireless - a very surprising combination. They admit that they disagree on many aspects of how they envision the FCC net neutrality regulations but that they share a common view of keeping it "an unrestricted and open platform."

I thought that Castells would have been very happy to read the final sentence of their post as a key objective in his public sphere - "We're ready to engage in this important policy discussion." It will be interesting to see if they actually follow through on this promised debate - on an issue that is anything but neutral.

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