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Net Neutrality War Heating Up

It’s pretty clear that the AT&T (T ) and Bellsouth (BLS) merger has turned into a proxy war over Net Neutrality, with Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG) spearheading the effort in a naked attempt to keep their distribution costs near zero. Correspondingly, Washington bloodsuckers lobbyists on both sides are gearing up.

The Wall St. Journal editorial yesterday captures the true issue at hand, and why the FCC is now deadlocked on approving the merger.

Meanwhile, Congressmen Ed Markey and John Dingell deserve their place in this story, having bared their teeth at Mr. McDowell in a threatening letter last week that questioned Mr. McDowell’s suitability to vet the merger. Their true interest was in strengthening the hand of Democratic Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, who seem bent on using this merger review to advance “Net neutrality” mandates that neither Congress nor the FCC have seen fit to impose through normal channels.

We’d like to see these two Congressmen demonstrate the same concern for public integrity by calling on the Commission to quickly approve a merger that everyone from shareholders to the relevant unions supports. But that probably makes us “uncurable optimists” too. The duo are eager to do favors for the campaign check-writers at Google and MoveOn.org, which want Net neutrality rules so AT&T and other telecom companies can’t charge market prices for use of their broadband pipes.

Check out the latest video from the “Save the Internet” coalition.

The only thing worse than having Washington involved in free markets is when they are trying to solve a problem that DOES NOT EXIST. My extended opinions can be found here.

Discussion

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  1. You are correct that Net Neutrality is an under-discussed part of this debate. Beyond that, your representation of reality gives way to unadulterated FUD.

    Google and Yahoo pay millions in distribution costs annually, and a non-neutral Internet would simply allow telcos to charge them an additional arbitrary amount. But this is not what is driving the broad coalition of Net Neutrality advocates. It is simply a red herring on your part.

    But the AT&T/Bellsouth merger is not just about neutrality. It has as much to do with ownership consolidation and the re-introduction of harmful noncompetitive national telecom monopoly we worked hard to break up in the 1980′s (which was for the most part ineffective).

    If you’d like to point the finger at “bloodsucker” lobbyists in the Net Neutrality debate, you would do well to mention that by some estimates the net neutrality opponents have outspent advocates by a factor of 500 to 1.

    Citing the imbalanced editorial from the WSJ doesn’t lend to your credibility, but at least your attempt to discredit the opposition by posting their video might lead some people toward a more informed understanding of the issues.

    Don’t mind approving this comment, it’s just reality after all!

    Posted by reality | December 21, 2006, 12:10 PM