Wednesday, December 21, 2005

You Got to Fight for the Right to Redline (and ruin the Internet)!

OK, they are all out in the open now. The National Journal reports that BellSouth, AT&T and Verizon, fighting for the right to create walled garden variety networks and pass them off as 'the Internet'. Thus far, the cable companies are content to stand back and let the phone companies do the heavy lifting and take the hits.

All of this is part of a big push by network owners to claim the Internet as theirs. They apparently believe in Lenin's notion that freedom of the press belongs to those that own the presses, substituting networks for the presses.

If you pay close attention to the phone companies, in particular, they want to be able to jump into an entirely new area of business practice: redlining. That is, they want the legal authority to discriminate in the deployment of their shiny new networks. That is, they want to deploy those new networks only in those neighborhoods and communities where they can't get the highest rate of return on their investments. That is, they want to be able to make second class network citizens of those who don't have the ability to pay their exorbitant fees.

That is, they want the legal authority to perpetuate the digital divide. Not surprisingly, the Republican-controlled U.S. House, Senate and FCC appear inclined to grant them their wish.

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