Feeds

Municipal WiFi is the new hope for Net Neutrality - thinker

Lessig's exploding cloud

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Municipal WiFi networks could help beat US carriers and politicians in the battle over so-called "net neutrality," according to one leading campaigner

Stanford University law professor Larry Lessig has argued the WiFi clouds popping up across cites from Philadelphia to San Francisco could provide broadband access over the "last mile" between the internet cloud and users' doorsteps.

Lessig, author and co-leader of the Creative Commons, told LinuxWorld attendees in San Francisco, that unification of the WiFI patchwork would provide an infrastructure that frees the last mile from the "proprietary control" of carriers like AT&T and Verizon. This would restrict carriers' ability to charge content providers different fees in order to prioritize delivery of their data packets across the internet.

Nationwide fame: Lessig on Jeopardy

"When one owns the wires as these network operators do, there is a desire to leverage control. To exploit and capture the value up the stack," Lessig said.

"There's an explosion in municipal mesh networks... as you see the clouds exploding above the cities and people unify them, the last mile is solved. The last mile is provided free of proprietary control," Lessig said.

Wonderful clouds exploding imagery aside, the wireless networks aren't taking off with quite the speed that Lessig claims. Google only fired up its free WiFi service in Mountain View this week - close to a year after it first promised to establish the service. And, those hoping to use the service, have to sign onto their Google account, letting the ad broker at their traffic. Meanwhile, major cities have struggled to rollout networks and see their WiFi plans as multi-year efforts.

According to Lessig, the end to net neutrality would hurt start-ups lacking cash not the giants such as Google, who are in the cross hairs of carriers like AT&T. "The net neutrality looser will be the next Google - like YouTube - because they can't pay this toll to be on the network," Lessig said.

He invoked the spirit of Linux, suggesting WiFi networks could be unified and moderated by the community, a la the Linux kernel. "If you support peer to peer, penguin magic, you will erase the last barrier to guaranteeing this infrastructure of the internet maintains the values of freedom that were there at its birth," Lessig said.

Municipal WiFi has been under attack in the US. Carriers like Verizon have been successfully lobbying local and national politicians who have introduced a number of bills banning cities from providing free wireless services in recent years. Carries argue free WiFi is unfair competition and hurts innovation, points rejected by Lessig who said free WiFi is actually "good for business, good for growth and more valuable to society and the economy."

Lessig encouraged members of community to inform lawyers and politicians about the dangers posed to innovation and new companies by the end to net neutrality. This, he said, would necessitate becoming involved in politics. "You have to play politics in a way the other side plays it... you need to 'waste your time' because they have all the power that's necessary to take away the freedom you now celebrate," he said.®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle
Music gear giant seeks some of that sweet, sweet Apple pie
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.