Broadband – DRM and Purpose
At $1000/household/year the ability to communicate seems more like a privilege than a right. It doesn't help that the broadband claims sound more like snake oil than technology.13-Mar-2010

This was originally posted on NNSquad . This version corrects some typography and typos.

The value of the Internet comes from its lack of a specific purpose. But Congress has locked into a purpose thus minimizing its generativity. We then declare victory without considering the idea that we’re asking the wrong question.

How could it work when it’s a DRM model? Your medical monitor cannot summon help unless it first proves that there is a billing relationship for each bit. Failure is not only an option but a requirement. This is why I call it the anti-Internet from planet broadband.

Just look at the list diseases it cures “job creation and economic growth, consumer welfare, civic participation, public safety and homeland security, health care, energy independence and efficiency, and other issues.” This reads like a patent medicine (AKA “snake oil”) bottle from the 19th century.

All of this without any reason why it should be so; even worse when basic idea of subscription funding undermines the ability to presume connectivity. It limits us to places where we have a subscription. I may have a medical monitor but it can’t use any of the 100mbps connection unless it can prove that there is a billing relationship. Fixating on speed is just more misdirection – it’s what you do when you are selling nostrums.

Today’s 9-1-1 system is voice-based. If your fire alarm goes off it goes feep and if you happen to be at home you might hear it and if your phone line is working you can speak to someone. If the device could assume basic connectivity then it would not only be able to notify the fire department it could also provide rich information as where the event is and how likely it is to be a fire or other event. Today if you’re not home your house burns down. This nearly happened to a neighbor of mine but fortunately someone noticed the flames though the damage was already severe at that point.

At the “Open Internet” session I attended in Boston I was struck by acceptance of the idea that networking is a service you subscribe to. It seems as if all these panels presume broadband is the answer without asking what the question is. No sense of creating opportunity or anything other than more “web”. Just a declared victory.

And each family will continue to pay $1000/year for the privilege of communicating – it’s not a right if you have to pay $1000/year for the billable events that are used to fund the billing system.