As I've noted before, it's nothing short of a miracle that the FCC has come out so strongly for open networks. On its face, it seems to defy the ways of Washington -- and public choice theory in particular. The FCC's action wasn't the result of lobbying by monied interest groups. It was a combination of committed efforts by public interest organizations with the (historically contingent) support of the Obama administration.
If the fate of the Internet were up to Congress, they would try to sell it to AT&T. In fact, they're trying to do that as we speak. And I'm talking only about the Democrats.
Earlier this week, seventy-two Democrats -- seventy of whom took money from Internet Service Providers like AT&T and Comcasat -- wrote a letter to the FCC criticizing openness requirements. The gritty populist Blue Dogs were, of course, well-represented. But what's disappointing is how many members of the Congressional Black Caucus signed on (including Rep. Lee, my own Representative -- who has inspired my first "press inquiry" to a congressional office).
This isn't terribly surprising -- the Internet Service Providers are a powerful, well-financed lobby with literally a century of experience lobbying Congress and its committees. Open networks are, by contrast, being pushed for largely by underfunded public interest organizations and activist groups. Internet companies have provided some help, but most of it has been after-the-fact cheerleading. They're not actively pushing much.
So let's hope Chairman Genachowski isn't bullied by this effort. And if one of your Representatives signed this letter (pdf), call their press office and ask them for a statement why the interests of AT&T are more important than the open Internet.