I was thinking today that for some folks Net Neutrality is a hugely important topic. For others, it has not resonated. I really think about this topic as I blog about it as all the changes that have happened in the Communications Business since the Telecom Act of 1996. I am hopeful that you think about this post and say, “Yes, Communications Regulation affects my life.”
There have been many. The biggest has been the explosion of the Internet. I wanted to stop and take a second to remind us all how pervasive that the ‘Net has become in our lives. This blog for example could not have existed 20 years ago. The Internet existed but the World Wide Web had not yet taken off. Few people had access and searching the Internet was a chore. I post this on several sites including my own Website. I think it is amazing that an Entrepreneur like myself can have my own Website at a moderate cost. Something that you don’t have to be rich to own.
Think of the following companies: Google, Amazon, and Netflix. None of them would exist without the changes in our lives based around the Internet. Netflix, in fact, has been the driving force behind the public debate around this topic. But the topic has been around since about the time that Netflix was founded in 1997.
One of the example about how lives have changed has to do with personal banking. I am old enough to have had to cash my paychecks on Friday. For those not old enough, there was a big rush to get to the bank at lunch on Friday. If you didn’t, you couldn’t get your cash for the weekend. There were no ATM machines and almost all banks were closed on the weekend. ATM machines came out when I went to college. Then we got Direct Deposit. Now I have On-Line Bill pay (often with Electronic Invoicing) and On-Line Banking. I have linked my Business Banking Accounts with my Quickbooks On-Line account so that I can do my bookkeeping. I am a Merchant Bank with a dongle on my Cellphone. The money from my Merchant Transactions goes straight into my business checking.
Those are all changes that have happened since 1980 in a very narrow slice. Can you imagine us all going back to the days of checks and cash for everything?
So as we all debate about how we want this to work, I am hopeful that many of you will pay attention. One thing that I really want to impress here. In general, the mainstream press gets all the details wrong. There are complex (very complex) technology and policy topics here. I am very concerned that you will be given incorrect technical information. I am also worried about the FCC. To date, they have taken a very light hand to regulating the Internet. This policy has been massively successful. Before we ask them to heavily regulate the Net, let’s think about the consequences hard.
Have a great weekend!
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