Tim Wu, the protege of Larry Lessig who’s been on two or three different sides of the net neutrality debate depending on which way the wind is blowing in Washington, has written a very bizarre analysis of wireless networks proposing massive new regulations. In what is either the greatest coincidence in recorded history or a demonstration of the source of Wu’s funding, Skype has passed it on to the FCC and asked them to go crazy and regulate away all the innovation we’ve seen in cell phone networks in the last ten years.
Adam Thierer of The Progress & Freedom Foundation isn’t impressed with the Skype-Wu Axis of Authoritarianism:
The fundamental question raised by the Skype-Wu proposal is whether America will continue to allow competition in wireless network architectures and business models to see which systems and plans (a) consumers truly prefer and that also (b) allow carriers to recoup fixed capital costs while (c) expanding and innovating to meet future needs. The Skype-Wu proposal would foreclose such marketplace experimentation by essentially converting cellular networks into a sort of quasi-commons and forcing private network operators to provide network access or services on someone else’s terms. That someone else, of course, is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which will be tasked with devising rules and price regulations to ensure “fair and non-discriminatory” access / interconnection pricing.
In my opinion, when you get right down to it, this proposal is a declaration of surrender.
The key point is something I’ve said to Wu on several occasions: there is much more innovation taking place on wireless networks than on the Internet, which gives the lie to Net Neutrality claims that their regulatory scheme is pro-innovation. Wu wants to suppress the data by stifling wireless innovation, and Skype is happy to have parasitic access to any new market they can find.
A pox upon them both.