Copps: Broadband regulation will preserve openness

Since the marriage of high-speed broadband and the Internet produces a "technology ... with more power to bring about good than any communications advancement in all our history," FCC Commissioner Michael Copps that information flow should not be impeded by placing it in the hands of "very biog, very powerful, very wealthy companies" that would build "gated communities for the affluent" while calling them "managed services."

"The few players that control access to the wonders of the Internet tell us not to worry. But I am worried. How can we have any confidence that their business plans and network engineering are not going to stifle our online freedom?" Copps asked at a Future of the Internet hearing in Minneapolis. His conclusion is that the FCC, which has been drifting aimlessly, should "correct course by reclassifying broadband as the telecommunications that it is."

At the same time Copps was making his statements--or close to it--the value of the Internet was being debated by Paul McGuinness, better known as manager of the rock band U2 in a wide-ranging interview to GQ Magazine. McGuinness blamed broadband Internet access with killing--or fatally wounding--the music business and said he agreed (here's a surprise) with U2's iconic lead singer Bono when he said that Internet-based music piracy benefits "rich service providers whose swollen profits perfectly mirror the lost receipts of the music business."

As with any volatile situation, there is a middle ground about broadband Internet: Access for disabled must be available to all. "Whether it's a Braille reader or a broadband connection, access to technology is not a political issue--it's a participation issue," said Congressman Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who has introduced a bill that aims to make the Internet more accessible to people with disabilities.

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