An Open Letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Mr. Wheeler:

In the ancient days of Ma Bell, before she fractured into Baby Bells, and then eventually back into the communication conglomerates we face today, was under very tight scrutiny. And the same forces that broke the original monopoly are as valid and vital today.

From the time that Microwave Communications, Inc. (MCI) won the right to interconnect with AT&T’s monopolistic network, the US Government has, again and again, ruled that the free market and level playing field competition are the rules governing access to communications.

The last big win for US citizens was the line number portability initiative in 1997, taking away the monopoly of phone numbers leased and paid for by a subscriber.

Now we’re fifteen years into that future. Amazon has gone from a startup with doors for desks to a company aspiring to flood the FAA with drone requests (just kidding) while developing a real-world caching technology that would set up deliveries of items to people before they even order them. Companies like Netflix have been instrumental in deconstructing the very idea of video content, taking the HBO and Showtime concepts and moving them into a direct-to-consumer model without a cable company’s infrastructure. Much as MCI’s leverage of AT&T.

This isn’t going to stop. Ideas will flit to startups to be swallowed by larger and successively larger fish. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and cable companies are as fearful of ‘net neutrality’ as Ma Bell was of MCI. And for good reason.

The best ideas get traction. The disruptive technologies redefine the online customer experience and break cost and profit models again and again — to the benefit of the entrepreneur and a free market economy.

I urge you to help them: define the roles of cable providers and ISPs so that the FCC has a clear, unfettered mandate to ensure the freedom of all voices, all IP packets, to be equally heard across the Internet.

Of course, the FCC has an integral role in regulating communications even in this communications-neutral environment. Folks who abuse Internet communications for foreign espionage are the realm of the NSA. But the 419 scammers, the incessant ‘botnets and spammers and hackers must be rebuffed. While the Department of Justice has its means, the FCC should help, even to helping ISPs spread information and solutions.

What the FCC cannot do, may not do, is allow ISPs to determine which traffic they will expedite, and which will trickle unless users, or providers, pay the piper fees only they deem sufficient.

Please take the time to think about how Internet Neutrality can be achieved in the spirit of the continuous entrepreneurship that has defined and nourished the environment  Allowing ISPs to decide who, when and why a content provider can deliver to a customer is a crime AGAINST the free market economy (messy though it might be) to decide which content is “worthy” of proper delivery.

Choose freedom. Freedom for all packets to reach their destination. And let the market, not bandwidth, to determine which content is worthy of a consumer’s time.