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January 08, 2016

Try Competify. Or Don't.

When you have been around for more than two decades, patterns start to repeat. Time-sharing becomes the cloud, distributed systems become edge computing, and concerns about monopolies come and go. A good friend is now working for Competify to see if a decade-old issue in front of the FCC about special access can finally bring new rules.

From Competify’s perspective the issue is thus: “The FCC adopted Net Neutrality rules to protect American consumers and businesses against the symptoms of the dominance these huge companies wield over our broadband infrastructure. Now, it’s time to address the underlying disease. America needs real broadband competition and rules to protect consumers and businesses until that competition exists. The FCC has collected the data, and it’s time to finish the job. It’s time to try Competify.”

Competition and broadband are a matter of perspective to me.  As Verizon sells off more and more of its local services so that it can become a wireless operator and follow in Sprint’s footsteps, it feels like the target is ambiguous. According to Competify, 75 percent of country has only one choice for broadband access lines.

The U.S. has always had a loose interpretation of the word “broadband”, while the term “special access” may be too strict.

When looking at the way that Content Delivery Networks and Data Centers are located, it’s clear that the economics have limited the location of these services. While the cloud has the sound of redundancy, it is usually very centralized for many companies.

Therefore, the case for new rules for special access should include an understanding of that redundancy and distribution. While some states have invested in data centers, it seems to me the goal should be to encourage edge computing and further the redundancy of cloud networks.

The request from the friend was to address Congressman Pallone of New Jersey, who is a ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

If you are looking for alternative services, you may want to sign the Competify petition.

If you don’t want to sign the petition, that’s fine, but don’t think that not doing so is a Net-neutral position. It’s not.


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