The Internet Association

The Internet Association will be the “first and only trade association representing Internet companies and the interests of their users,” President and CEO Michael Beckerman told Mashable.  The goal of the Internet Association is to work towards “political solutions that will push for protecting a free and open Internet” and, according to Beckerman, to defend the Internet from what its members view as excessive regulation. Mashable’s “Internet’s Biggest Companies Joining Forces to Lobby Washington” article reports that there are many more companies included in the Internet Association, but the entirety of the group’s members won’t be disclosed until September.

The question then becomes a matter of policy. Made up of companies whose monetary value is staggering, the Internet Association has the potential to carry considerable weight in politics; however, how will the organization decide what stance to hold when there is such a large group of people to protect? The organization’s creation is likely a response to policies like SOPA and PIPA, and having an association to lobby against these policies will help protect users of the Internet, but it also has the potential for negative impact.  Currently, there is no global association that has the final say on the Internet. This lack of a global ruling body on the Internet means that countries will individually decide what to do with the Internet, and in America, for better or for worse, means that businesses with money will influence democracy.

So how will the affect the average Joe? It will depend on the policies that the Internet Association supports, but I am optimistic that this organization will fight for the users.  Technology companies are especially mindful of those who use their products, as the relationship between the consumer and the business is very close amongst tech companies, and I’m hopeful that the same will be true of the Internet Association.

Private/Public Partnerships in Broadband

Forbes’ “Bring on the Broadband with Private/Public Partnerships” discusses the nation’s changing interactions with broadband services and how the market is readjusting to accommodate customers’ new needs. I confess a certain bewilderment that a joint venture between municipal governments and private internet service providers has taken this long to come to fruition. For some time I have been reading about some small towns that, after deciding the services rendered by ISPs were not worth the relative cost, established their own public internet providers; in these success stories, the individual towns were able to use their citizens’ taxes to create infrastructures with much greater speeds, making internet access easy for whole population centers. In the wake of this, I would have thought that ISPs would be trying to prevent such action through “joint venture” and “compromise”.

I can see the value in working with cities to use their pre-existing fiber-optic networks to augment the capacities of internet services, especially where doing so would cut back on the cost to the private companies to expand their networks. However, this move still seems rather uninspired and even a bit shortsighted. In an age where Finland gets an average broadband speed of 22Mbps for an average of about $3.00 per 1Mbps, the proposed 5Mbps for a $300 installation fee and $70/month charge that Google has put forward for Kansas City can hardly be considered advancement.

Personally, I am much more interested in efficiency over competition. I can’t speak for the average consumer, but I can say that as a nation, we have a great deal of progress to make in this information age to catch up with the rest of the world; we could benefit not so much from collaboration between companies and governments as outright mergers of the two. (Unprecedented, perhaps, but so are most new and interesting things.) Empires these days seem to be powered by data; it behooves us as a country to look nationally into the necessity of building our networks for our own citizens, creating a stable infrastructure for the nation, rather than simply expecting ISP companies to do the same.