“Finding it hard to understand the ‘net neutrality’ debate? On one side are the hip, cool, billionaire web service companies like Google, eBay, Yahoo, and even Microsoft. Net neutrality is their rallying cry. Despite the fact that they are basically schlocky ad salesmen on a grand scale, they’re pushing this quaint, self-serving ’60s notion that the Internet is a town square — all for one and one for them, or something like that,” Andy Kessler writes for The Weekly Standard. “Everyone should be allowed to hang out in the town square and use it as they please, one low price, eat all you want at the buffet.”

“On the other side are the monopolist plumbers like Verizon and AT&T and Comcast. These are the folks who laid the pipe that delivers the Internet–the blogs and pirated movies and photos of Shiloh Brangelina–to your house or office,” Kessler writes. “They think the Internet is more like a giant shopping mall, and they’re the mall owners. You the customer can walk around as if you were in the town square, but the tenants (see billionaire web service companies above) are going to have to pay for the upkeep of the premises. If they’re one of the anchor stores, they might pay a lot.”

“In an effort to skim their own fees off the Google crowd, lobbyists and Congress have also taken up the fight. So far, the telcos are winning — a bid to add net neutrality language to a telecommunications bill was shot down 269-152 by the House on June 8 — but this is one of those bizarre issues where both sides are off their rocker,” Kessler writes. “But the answer is not regulations imposing net neutrality. You can already smell the mandates and the loopholes once Congress gets involved. Think special, high-speed priority for campaign commercials or educational videos about global warming. Or roadblocks — like requiring emergency 911 service — to try to kill off free Internet telephone services such as Skype. And who knows what else? Network neutrality won’t be the laissez-faire sandbox its supporters think, but more like used kitty litter. We all know that regulations beget more lobbyists. I’d rather let the market sort these things out.”

“Here’s an idea: Start screaming like a madman and using four letter words–like K-E-L-O [Supreme Court’s Kelo v. City of New London eminent domain rulings]. And fancier words like ’eminent domain.’ I know, I know. This sounds wrong. These are privately owned wires hanging on poles. But so what? The government-mandated owners have been neglecting them for years — we are left with slums in need of redevelopment. Horse-drawn trolleys ruled cities, too, but had to be destroyed to make way for progress. How do we rip the telco’s trolley tracks out and enable something modern and real competition?” Kessler writes. “Sure, property rights are important, but that doesn’t mean we can’t shake a cattle prod at our stagnant monopolists and say ‘update or get out of the way.’ The mantra should be ‘megabits to phones and gigabits to homes.’ We’ll only get there via competition. Regulations — even regulations that look friendly to the Googles and Yahoos and hostile to the telcos — will just freeze us where we are today.”

“A truly competitive, non-neutral network could work, but only if we know its real economic value. If telcos or cable charge too much, someone should be in a position to steal the customer. Maybe then we’d see useful services and a better Internet. Sounds like capitalism,” Kessler writes. “We don’t even know what new things are possible. Bandwidth is like putty in the hands of entrepreneurs — new regulations are cement. We don’t want a town square or a dilapidated mall — we want a vibrant metropolis. Net neutrality is already the boring old status quo. But don’t give in to the cable/telco status quo either. Far better to have competition, as long as it’s real, than let Congress shape the coming communications chaos and creativity.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We root for the consumer.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

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