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Saturday, May 15, 2004

Gilder to FCC: Open Up American Broadband

Here are some quotes, without comment (I'm on the road and pressed for time) from his recent testimony to the FCC:

"The U.S. now ranks eleventh internationally in residential “broadband” access. Using the FCC’s silly 200-kilobit-per-second definition, some now say that 25 percent of American homes have broadband. But by the standards of Asia—where most citizens enjoy access speeds 10 times faster than our fastest links—U.S. residences have no broadband at all. U.S. businesses have far less broadband than South Korean residences. South Korea, for instance, has 40 times the per capita bandwidth of the U.S. Japan is close behind Korea, and countries from China to Italy are removing obstacles to the deployment of vDSL, fiber-to-the-home, and broadband wireless networks."

"The Telecom Act of 1996... turned into a million-word re-regulation of the industry. Regulatory actions by the FCC and the 51 state utility commissions greatly exacerbated the bad parts of the Act and distorted many of the good parts."

[MCI has a new proposal:] "A horizontal layers approach would supposedly be a radical shift from the “vertical silos” approach now used, where telephony, cable, and wireless, for example, are regulated based on historical industry definitions, not generic functional categories. The common denominator of Internet Protocol (IP)—supposedly the basis for all future communications networks—is said to necessitate the new layered regulatory approach."

"Should Google be able to leverage search into Gmail, or to supply content using its proprietary algorithms and its physical network of 100,000 servers? Shouldn’t any rival search provider be able to feed off of Google’s advanced infrastructure? After all, wouldn’t it be impossible to recreate Google’s massive web of global intelligence? Doesn’t Google’s superior infrastructure exhibit “market power”? Might Google actually evolve into a general provider of web-based information management services, rivaling the PC-based Microsoft, or should Google be “quarantined” as a search provider? Or maybe we should structurally separate Google into three companies: an infrastructure provider (its 100,000 networked servers plus algorithmic IP), a content/advertising company, and an information services company (Gmail plus future knowledge management applications). Surely FCC bureaucrats can make these easy distinctions and explain the resulting penalties to weary entrepreneurs who have just spent 10 years of their life building a new service that people really like."

"The real threat to monopolize and paralyze the Internet is not the communications industry and its suppliers, but the premature modularizers and commoditizers, the proponents of the dream of some final government solution for the uncertainties of all life and commerce."

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