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TheStreet Open House

The Fall of the Stupid Network

By selling programs or channels or blockbuster movies using the bundle Dish could turn bits into services. Just as voice calls are a service. Services bring more money than bits, maybe even enough to justify a continued network build.

The services model is coming to the wired world, too. If you use Comcast (CMCSA) for Internet (or a number of other ISPs) you're paying an "up-charge" to use Disney's (DIS) Watch ESPN web service, whether or not you like sports. You probably didn't know that. It's the first nose under the tent for moving the cable pricing model of "programming services" onto the Internet.

Former ICANN board member and Obama technology adviser Susan Crawford writes this week at Wired that our obsession with services over bits is costing us in the global broadband race.

Crawford writes that countries such as New Zealand are beating us because they separate the construction of Internet capacity from the delivery of Internet services. She calls what the carriers are doing to destroy the stupid network "harvesting," and suggests that fiber be driven onto streets through loan guarantees, with open access made a requirement for getting rights of way.

Private interests will always seek to harvest profit from what they have, supporting scarcity over abundance. Until the public is willing to acknowledge that fact and act on it, the stupid network will continue to be destroyed, and our global competitiveness will be harmed in the interest of short-term profit.

At the time of publication, the author had no position in the companies mentioned..

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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