The Internet should be treated as a utility: Susan Crawford



Here’s how it seems to have gone with utilities and regulators in the years since I have been alive:

Utility: More money, money, money money!
Regulators: Okay (shrugs shoulders)


And any time a city or county tries to inject some competition by making a local high-speed Internet utility these champions of the Free Market lower prices, increase quality and do anything they can to make customers want their product.

Just kidding. They buy enough State Legislators to make it illegal.


They are all the same price. I remember being excited that Verizon would be competing with cable but it was the same bundling crap at the same price.

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"…she makes the case for treating Internet access as a utility – not necessarily a right, but something that markets do a bad job of supplying on their own."

Somebody tell that to PG&E’s apologists and slaves in Sacramento.

Yep. And it would help a great deal if we applied those same rules to the physical world, especially with ISPs. The existing situation is not a “market failure”, it’s a market choked with government-granted special privilege monopolies, where new entrants sometimes literally have to ask the permission of the incumbents to enter the market. The last thing we need is more of that.

Here in Detroit, we don’t even treat the utilities like utilities.

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Here in Detroit, we don’t even treat the utilities like utilities.

Someone should have convinced Kwame his wife needed faster Internet…then Michigan would be the hub of a new technoprogressive revolution.

Michigan is the hub of a new technoprogressive revolution. Check it out:

My thought exactly - except, America.

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I don’t feel any better about trusting governments that want nothing less than to use the Internet to reach into all of our private lives (Peter MacKay - Minister of ‘Justice’, Canada City, Canada - on 2014-03-27: “The member is right; we are committed to policing the Internet”; and “The time for talk is past.”) than I do about life under the current monopolies. It’s a false dilemma. It’s not a choice between red or blue.

ISPs just need competition. Make it safe to run open WiFi (without fear of a lawsuit from the RIAA, or worse) and we’ll be up to our necks in Internet. That’s the stranglehold right there… Fear of freedom; fear of anonymity. Ah, fear, my well-worn noose.

There could be as many ISPs as there are home networks.

I agree. If we let the government run Internet pipes like utility pipes, what’s to stop them from spying on all of us and our web traffic‽

You forgot the 3rd step. Regulator goes thru revolving door to work at the Corporation with a big bonus

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What would have happened if, instead of buckling like a belt, Netflix had posted an announcement to every client saying something like “Unfortunately, your Netflix service will be unreliable right now because Comcast won’t allow us to provide you with quality service at a reasonable price. If you’re unhappy about this, please let Comcast know at [insert email/phone number here].”

Is there some dire consequence I’m missing there? Two can play at hardball.

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What’s stopping them now? Do you think your ISP is going to stand up and say “Oh no, you can’t bring your equipment in here, three letter acronym! No matter how much you pay us!”?

That supposes that Comcast gives a crap what you think. What are you going to do, go back to dialup?

That’s just it. High Speed Internet is generally a monopoly or at best a duopoly. They employ monopoly pricing which captures every bit of excess value, not pricing which reflects actual costs. Every effort to create a public utility has been met with laws which prohibit creation of the lower-cost alternative.


They already do. Get over your corporate-induced fear of public utilities

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Networks have used threats and publicity campaigns like that against cable/satellite providers, so I’m not sure why Netflix isn’t a bit more aggressive with how it confronts Comcast.

I have no love for the corporations, but whenever I think of government run ISPs, I can’t help but think of what the the British government want to do.

Surely there is a better option?