Bill St. Arnaud’s call for a National Public Internet

Excerpted from Bill St. Arnaud:

“As many of you may have seen recently in the press Facebook is making special arrangements with a number of cell phone companies to offer free access to Facebook. Many cell phone companies are also offering special data packages that only include access to Facebook and Twitter. As well once again, as documented in the AT Kearney report, the monopolistic service providers are demanding that the major content providers pay them for delivering content to the “telco’s” customers. Some argue these offerings have nothing to do with the Internet, and therefore do not violate any network neutrality regulations that may or may not exist. These developments are labeled as “innovation” which is a common telco/cableco euphemism for how to extract more monopoly rent from suppliers and customers.

I remain skeptical that regulation will prevent this type of “innovation” or that it should even try. That is why I have been long arguing that we need a National Public Internet (NPI) that is dedicated to the concept that the “Internet is for everyone” and not a small number of multi-billion dollar content companies or service providers. Much like National Public Radio (NPR) and Public Broadcasting System (PBS) provide an alternate voice and independent perspective from the major commercial broadcasters whose culture highpoint is the Bachelor show, I think we need a Public Internet that adheres and embraces the basic principles that made the Internet such a powerful social tool.”

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