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‘Score one for innovation’: Brooklyn technologists react to FCC’s broadband plans

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his support for strong net neutrality principles. Brooklyn's all for it.

The 2014 awards were designed by Fab Lab Baltimore. (Photo by Catherine Sontag)

Last week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote on Wired that he would submit rules to the FCC that basically square with what the web community has been asking for.
First, he’d regulate internet service providers as if they were railroads. In the parlance of the FCC, that’s as “common carriers.” In other words, you can’t favor one stream over another. Second, he said he’d submit similar rules for mobile broadband.
We reached out to local technologists to get their reaction to the news.
We’ve dealt with both of these topics in this space. A large rally and speakout at the Brooklyn Public Library articulated the desires of Brooklynites for a neutral internet, one that didn’t favor one kind of content over another. We also featured reactions to investor Fred Wilson’s blog post about mobile plans that don’t count data from certain services toward monthly limits.
Here’s what we heard back:
“We’re thrilled that Chairman Wheeler’s proposal protects the open Internet under the strongest possible authority available to him — Title II,” Althea Erickson, Etsy’s public policy director, said in a press release. “We applaud the FCC for standing up for all businesses — big and small — who depend on the Internet to make a living, and look forward to learning more about the specific rules in the coming days.”

"Way to do the right thing. Score one for innovation." Jamie Wilkinson, VHX CEO.

VHX included this image with its comment, so we put them together.


A new founder, Steve Dean of Jobsuitors (which we covered here) put the global perspective on the news, saying, “In more progressive countries, the internet is a human right. I find it shocking that we as a society still permit corporations monopolistic control over something that has become so central to our civilization. Knowledge is power, and the internet is our best conduit for knowledge.”
Local organizer and instigator for the startup community, Mike Caprio, praised the move in an email, alluding to some of the points President Obama recently made during a visit to a city in Iowa that has much faster broadband than America’s largest and richest cities.
But he also expressed concern that the proposals won’t become law.
“It’s heartening to see that the executive branch and its offices take the problem of our country lagging behind much of the world in broadband speed and infrastructure seriously, but I am gravely concerned that our lopsidedly pro-monopoly, pro-corporate, and anti-consumer judicial and legislative branches will not allow these rules to be implemented,” Caprio wrote. “New York in particular must still aggressively fight against the merger of Time-Warner and Comcast, and must seriously reconsider the state plan to bribe ISPs into providing nominally better service, when we should be putting that money towards municipal network infrastructure and services to bridge the digital divide — we should invest in people, not pay off corporations.”


We reached out to a mobile online entrepreneur to get his take. Max Friend created Filmbot, an app to make moviegoing more social. He wrote in an email, “For those of us building services and products who don’t have the advantages of the old guard and a different vision for the world ahead, that path is our opportunity to make amazing things happen.”
Games entrepreneur Nicholas Fortugno, COO of Playmatics (whose “Breaking Bad” project we recently profiled), sent us a statement of support and reflected on where regulation could potentially go.
“I’m also happy they are applying a light touch, because I don’t think we’re in a place to need price controls yet,” he wrote. “Overall, this is a great first step for maintaining the open internet that keeps our internet freedom and allows new businesses to thrive.”
A Queens-based photographer, Shuli Hallak, who specializes in documenting the internet’s infrastructure wrote to us. “The US is ranked 12th in the world for Internet speed, averaging 11.5 mbps,” she said. “The ISPs do not have an economic incentive to overhaul or upgrade their physical infrastructure to make our broadband faster. We as a country do have a huge economic incentive to get up to speed. Broadband is the infrastructure of the Information Era, and we use it to make and move our products. We can’t do this effectively on small congested pipes.”

Companies: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) / Brooklyn Public Library / Etsy / Kickstarter
Series: Brooklyn

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