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Eloquent Words From Qwest CEO

May 12, 2006 - 2 Comments

SAN JOSE, CA – Rather than replying to a comment from my last post I thought I would recommend the reading of a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert. Recent, as in March 29th.In defining the net neutrality debate, he offers the following analogy: “Say you decide to buy sweaters for holiday gifts. You calculate the price, add the cost for standard delivery, and send in your order. But L.L. Bean says “Hey, in the spirit of the season, we’re going to provide express delivery at no extra cost to the customer. We’ll work with Fed Ex to cover the gap between standard and expedited service.” Would we get government involved to stop it? Would it even occur to us to object? If Lands’ End said, “Not fair,” would we rally to its aid? And would the fact that other outdoor clothing providers might one day decide to enter the market justify turning a history and tradition of business practice on its head? Not a chance.”Very interesting point and very well said. You can use your own noodle to substitute for FexEx, L.L. Bean and Land’s End in this debate. Even though the Wall Street Journal has identified me as a “high-ranking executive” (see blog entry from April 3, 2006), Mr. Notebaert really is a high-ranking executive and has chosen his analogies and words more carefully than I in attempting to define the net neutrality debate. Must be the reason he is the CEO and I am not…yet. : )

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  1. So what is the content of the letter that Cisco sent to Congress on Wednesday opposing Net Neutrality?

  2. Hi John,I think a closer analogy would be slotting fees used by grocery stores where they charge the manufacturers for preferred shelf space. slotting fee is the fee charged to produce companies by the supermarket distributors in order to have their product placed on their shelves.A pro net nuetrality article was written in the New Yorker a few months back. Below is an excerpt., Internet providers hope to manage the Internet the way a supermarket owner manages his store, charging companies “slotting fees” in exchange for better shelf space, or the way bookstores charge publishers extra in order to have books placed on tables at the front of the store. Up to this point, the Internet has been operated more or less like a public utility. All bits of data have been treated similarly, just as the highway system doesn’t allow trucks from some companies to go faster than others, and the electrical grid does not deliver reliable power to some customers and erratic service to others. We could write this principle into law, as a new bill sponsored by Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from Oregon, proposes. But the bill’s chances of success are slim at best. Increasingly, it seems likely that the Net will end up looking less like the highway system and more like a collection of Safeways.A collection of Safeways is not a terrible thing—supermarkets in the U.S. do a good job of delivering food that people want, at a reasonable cost—but it’s hardly what we’ve come to expect of the Internet. Decisions that once were made collectively by hundreds of millions of Internet users would now be shaped in large part by a handful of telecom executives. It used to be said that the Internet was all about “disintermediation.” With the end of network neutrality, the middlemen are striking back.