It is what it is....

Monday, August 27, 2007

Net Neutrality: The Ugly Bride

Over the next 20 years net neutrality will be left at the alter many, many times. At&T already did it once when they had no way to provide cable modem service because @Home Network had been the choice of partner for the cable co's. Meaning AT&T didn't have a broadband connection into the home. What did they do? They found the other kid who wasn't invited to the party, AOL, and cried all the way up to the principals office where they screamed and yelled about how poorly they were treated and how they should be included. Funny how shortly after the TCI acquisition was approved they slowly crawled across and into the anti neutrality, anti gov't intervention, pro free market camp.

What about Google? Google talks a good game but like the Barons of the past, they're so rich and powerful that it's easy to be preaching the socialistic smoke screen of open access when the commotion you're making distracts the attention from the real reason you need open access policies: Advertising $$.

Before I get into why, this thesis hinges on where I see Google taking it's road map over the next ten years. Google will become and will accomplish during those 120 months:

- already is today and always will be, and DON'T EVER FORGET IT, generating revenue by getting a piece of the advertising and marketing budgets of BUSINESSES worldwide (Sound familiar? It should because you know many similar companies. Companies like NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX, etc)

- building out an IP network that will kick ass on anything we have today because they'll squeeze every little drop of 'utility' out of each tiny unit of that network, driving the revenue per packet higher and higher the longer that packet stays on it's network. The big deal in this? They will give access and access device away for free to anyone who wants one. Just like the bikes at the googleplex, take one when you need one and leave it for the next guy to use when you're done. Since they're free, there really is no reason to steal them because there is no reason to buy one, right? Riiiight.

- will emerge as the leading global wireless phone carrier, giving access to voice and data via free gPhones to the masses.

- will enable a true global village as Marshall McCluhan predicted. providing ubiquity in access reach, speed and scope. no kids left behind, just like the California school system. uh huh.

How could such a beacon of industry and a company that is studied and admired as the pinnacle of American enterprise show its true colors and be so fickle? Flip flopping from one side to the other? I love answering my own questions and since nobody else is raising their hand I will tell you; first, its real simple and sheds some light on why net neutrality is a pipe dream. Net neutrality itself is a concept and notion created by the telco's and in cooperation with their opposition, which pits each other in a one extreme to the other showdown. Nobody will ever win this showdown because if someone did it would then be over and if it's over how can they conveniently flip or flop to the other side when need be? Everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too and when your talking about something you can see, touch and feel, the history of any given involved party is easily forgotten, effectively masking economic warning signs. The most obvious one being the saying, "if it's to good to be true, it is and never will be true."

It's all about one $ and maximizing how many times that same $ can be 'turned over' during it's lifetime. For this example, my definition of 'turned over' is the value of the taxes the US gov't(or any type of tax collector) collects on each dollar it spends, collects, spends, collects, etc...

Keeping that packet on your network all the time ensures you can have more opportunity to market to the user, provides them with more and deeper analytics of this persons habits, a deeper understanding of what is important to this person and what are they hiding. After all, the easiest way to get someone to do some action is by guilting them into it.

Yes, businesses will do what they can to maintain an advantage in the market for the assets they've built or acquired. This is nothing new and is happening on behalf of every industry, not just telecom. And it is expected. If you elected an official who is uneducated and susceptible to rhetoric and hype you have the ability to change that instead of throwing more rhetoric and hype on top of it. The fact of the matter is that with or without net neutrality, market innovations will happen that shake up the landscape. We're seeing it now with wifi. In a few years the net neutrality debate as it relates to in ground last mile connections to the home will likely be a laughable memory because of innovations by companies addressing a market deficiency such as lack of competition for the last mile connection. Wifi, WiMAX, satellite or any other protocol/standard/whatever bypasses the last mile altogether, thus bypassing the ILEC, MSO, etc.

So, if you really want a competitive market for alternatives to any of the technological services we have today, the best way to ensure that is to allow those companies to keep their systems closed and have tiered offerings because the capitalistic market forces will produce alternative, innovative, ground breaking and industry shattering service offerings. Does Napster ring a bell?

Another thing to consider, the telcos(distributors) rely on the content producers(websites, aps's, isv's, etc) as much as the producers rely on the telcos. They are complimentary in nature and it is in their best interest to play together because the combination of the two is what makes each, in its own right, attractive. What would Yahoo or Google be without the internet? Why did GM pull that all electric car they used to have off of the market and now why is Tesla coming out with an even better one? Because the oil companies needed GM as much as GM needed the oil companies.

We aren't fans, we are participants. Just how fans often confuse their favorite team signing a questionable player or a player saying something negative about their team, these industries are made up by for-profit businesses which must show a return on investment or they will vanish faster than they got here. Don't be fooled by the smoke screens!!!

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