[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Walled Garden

Etwas anderer Ansatz, Bertelsmann zu denken:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Thu, 7 Oct 1999 15:53:11 -0400 
From: Aleck Johnson <ASJ@lharris.com>
Reply-To: roundtable@cni.org
To: Multiple recipients of list <roundtable@cni.org>
Subject: Broadband in the Public Interest

I wanted to alert all of you to a new newsletter launched today by the 
NoGatekeepers group on the Open Access issue.  Please feel free to 
pass the announcement below along and please subscribe (using the 
instructions below) to receive the newsletter directly!


Aleck Johnson


NoGatekeepers                     |   Broadband in the Public Interest News
http://www.nogatekeepers.org/     |
Forward until October 21, 1999


Welcome to NoGatekeepers' BROADBAND IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST, a biweekly
newsletter looking at the broadband wars from a public interest
perspective.  Below, please find an introduction to the issue and our
newsletter.  For the entire newsletter and updates on:

*  Open Access in St. Louis;
*  AT&T/Media One Merger; and
*  AT&T vs. Portland

     Please go to <http://www.nogatekeepers.org/newsletter/939225972.shtml> 


     Over the past year, the media has been saturated with reports 
about the coming of high speed Internet access.  Hardly a day goes by 
without a report of a new merger aimed at cornering some portion of the
high-speed "broadband" market or speeding deployment.  There is, to be
sure, big money at issue in the deployment of broadband, and those
financial stakes have provoked a highly charged political battle between
industry giants over the control of the high-speed pipes.

     At the center of the storm is the struggle between cable giants and 
Internet Service providers over access to the "last mile" infrastructure
that will bring the Internet over high speed cable pipes into the home.  
The cable companies, led by AT&T/AtHome, want to exert total control over 
both the conduit and the Internet content flowing over the pipes in order 
to create a "walled garden."  If you want to get high-speed Internet 
access over cable, you must use the cable ISP, pay for the cable 
aggregated content and live by the cable company's terms of service.  By 
contrast, the Internet Service providers and some phone companies want 
the pipes open to competition, arguing that the Internet is not cable 
television and that consumers should be able to pick their ISP and 
select their own content in the broadband Internet no less than in the 
narrowband one.

     The dispute has escalated into a nasty clash between giants that is
playing out in cities and states around the country as well as in Congress
and the Federal Communications Commission. But with decibel level rising,
many ordinary Americans are left to wonder just what is the public stake 
-- their stake -- in the "open access" debate?  Today, we launch Broadband 
in the Public Interest to explore that important question and to give 
voice to the many consumer advocates, public interest groups and Internet 
experts who believe there is a strong public interest in assuring that 
high-speed Internet services are deployed in an open and nondiscriminatory 

     In a few short years, Americans have begun to take the Internet's
core features - its open architecture and nondiscriminatory access - for
granted.  It is these features after all which have made the Internet 
the "most participatory form of mass speech yet imagined" and which have 
spurred the growth of thousands of Internet Service providers and 
countless new applications and innovations.  When broadband reaches some 
measure of ubiquity, new applications will allow "we the people" to create 
and make available high quality digital video and audio programming, build 
innovative small e-businesses, and provide distance learning and health 
care in ways not yet imagined.  From the public interest viewpoint, this 
is what is truly exciting about high speed Internet access: that ordinary 
citizens and civic groups will gain the high-speed tools to compete in 
both the market and the marketplace of ideas.

     But as the business plans for the next generation Internet are being
laid, there is ample evidence that the fundamental character of the Net 
may be at risk. Indeed if many in the cable industry have their way, the
essential openness of the Internet will be replaced by a few corporate
gatekeepers which will exert enormous control over the content and the
conduit leading into our homes.  Consumers will be "steered" to content
owned by the cable provider and away from unaffiliated voices.  Local
e-commerce sites will be discriminated against and users will be limited 
to "permissible" uses of the cable pipe.  As Kevin Werbach, editor of 
Release 1.0 and author of "The Architecture of Internet 2.0" said of 
cable's plan's, "[w]hatever it is, it isn't the Internet."

     What are the implications of the "closed" Internet model favored 
by the cable companies for free expression, small business, privacy and
innovative uses of the information superhighway?  What will happen to
noncommercial content, non-profit advocacy, distance education, civic
dialogue, and diversity if large vertically integrated monopolies erect 
a gate between the consumer and the Internet?  Does competition matter?  
Will the more than five thousand Internet service providers survive if 
cable has its way, and if not, should we care?  What is the impact on 
pricing and consumer choice if competition in Internet access is 
eliminated?  What is the relationship between competition and 
deployment?  And should any of this matter to the underserved 
communities traditionally ignored by the marketplace?

     Broadband in the Public Interest believes that the answers to these
questions are critical to the future of the Internet and must be a central
part of the public debate.  Every two weeks we intend to bring you news,
opinion, guest editorials, interviews, research and links to resources 
that closely scrutinize the deployment of broadband from a public interest
perspective.  And because no Internet publication would be complete without
a strong dose of irony, each edition will feature a "quote from the
gatekeepers".  (Nominations are welcome). This first week's quote: comes
courtesy of Leo Hindrey Jr., CEO of AT&T Broadband & Internet Services,
who warns streaming video over the Internet would undercut cable's 

     "I am not against streaming, but I am against streaming that
destroys the business that I have spent billions and billions of 
dollars, tens of billions building.  So I am not going to let that 

*  Leo Hindery, CEO, AT&T Broadband and Internet Services, quoted in
Multichannel News  (NOTE: Mr. Hindery resigned from his position at 
AT&T on October 6, 1999)

AT&T/Excite@Home already limits subscribers to ten minutes of streaming
video.  What's next?  Maybe a ban on cable killer video?

And speaking of straw men, BPI intends to knock down the person of 
straw currently being paraded around the net by cable giants and their
supporters: that placing open access requirements on the "fledgling"
cable broadband industry would squelch deployment.  According to the
cable industry's line, if you want broadband now, you are just going 
to let the cable industry have its way and extend its monopoly to
cyberspace or else they won't deploy the service (dubbed "cable
blackmail" by noted Internet scholar Larry Lessig).  But we don't
believe we have to trade off "broadband how" for "broadband now," and
neither do most respected financial analysts, economists or consumer
groups.  In our next report, we will address the deployment debate. 
Expect the straw to fly. 


NoGatekeepers is dedicated to educating the public, local and federal
policy makers, advocates, and the press about the importance of open
broadband networks and the need to preserve competition in the Internet
access market in order to protect consumer choice, privacy, and freedom
of speech.  For more information on No Gatekeepers visit our web site 
at <http://www.nogatekeepers.org/about/>.

To receive regular editions of "Broadband in the Public Interest" 
(its free), simply sign up with your email address at