Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Net neutrality, competition and community

So... i'm writing this just so you can say you heard it here first (or tell me just how 5 mins ago i really am ;-).

When i first heard that the looming net neutrality issue was finally getting air time in Congress and in the technorati's minds my thought was... the right thing to do is to compete on the infrastructure. If the infrastructure providers are not offering the service that the community wants, a niche opens up for a new kind of provider.

Now, what sort of provider could step up and fill the shoes of the telcos? Well... what about wireless mesh or wireless mesh as a template/prototype of the kind of technology we want? People buy individual units (e.g. laptop/computer + wifi) that have direct, specific value to them in their daily lives. Orgs, such coffee shops, libraries, schools, boutiques, also buy such units -- or more powerful aggregator versions. Etc.

These units link together to provide greater and greater communication capabilities. The more units link together the better the capability in terms of reach, resiliency, bandwidth, etc. This is emergence at its finest.

And, it fits perfectly with the emerging OSS-community ethos while at the same time selling a lot of laptop+wifi (so you know which stock to buy) and provides sufficient technology challenges and opportunities to keep folks busy for ages.

From this point of view the people arguing for net neutrality ought to see the looming threat as a blessing in disguise. The sooner we can bootstrap an alternative communication infrastructure the better, in my view.