NetCompetition.Org: They Have Drunk Too Much Cable/Telco Lobby Kool-Aid

We hate to focus too much on this Telco-Cable industry funded lobbying effort. But its latest [9/29] self-heralded “one-pager” attacking network neutrality proponents requires a response (we admit we may have come down with a Sen. Stevens form of `fetish’ about this lobbying site). Netcompetition’s analysis comes from a naive view of the realities of the broadband market. The paper paints a glowing picture of what it believes is emerging broadband competition. Hence, with such prospective abundance of networks and content likely, it argues that the country ignore the calls for safeguards coming from net neutrality supporters. We are, suggests Scott Cleland, experiencing “unfounded pessimism and fear about the future of broadband…”

First, we have to say that history is on our side. Despite all the talk and proclamations about bypass and competition—we haven’t had much in the multichannel and telecom sector. It’s been a sad story of consolidation and broken promises. Two, Mr. Cleland is ignoring the powerful triple/quad play now being deployed by his funders. Their networks—and content applications and partnerships—will dominate our TV, PC, and mobile experience for many years. The current state of broadband concentration–along with the emerging marketplace conditions–should be unthinkable in a democracy. Two companies control the cable industry; two will dominate the telephone market. Already, old media incumbents are swallowing new players—such as the News Corp. takeover of MySpace. There is tremendous consolidation throughout the digital content marketplace.

Hey Netcompetition. Your argument that just over the hill our digital media system is awash in a Wizard of Oz golden glow doesn’t cut it. We need safeguards now.

It’s not pessimism, but honest realism with an eye on the needs of our democracy. That’s a currency in too short supply in the nation’s capital.