Have we utterly deluded ourselves? Are we in a technological Dark Age? Here is my analysis in Forbes of Tyler Cowen’s new e-book essay The Great Stagnation, which argues we’ve eaten all the low-hanging fruit and maybe we’ll have to settle for less.
New numbers from Cisco allow us to update our previous comparison of actual Internet usage around the world. We think this is a far more useful metric than the usual “broadband connections per 100 inhabitants” used by the OECD and others to compile the oft-cited world broadband rankings.
What the per capita metric really measures is household size. And because the U.S. has more people in each household than many other nations, we appear worse in those rankings. But as the Phoenix Center has noted, if each OECD nation reached 100% broadband nirvana — i.e., every household in every nation connected — the U.S. would actually fall from 15th to 20th. Residential connections per capita is thus not a very illuminating measure.
But look at the actual Internet traffic generated and consumed in the U.S.
The U.S. far outpaces every other region of the world. Read the rest of this entry »
See our new CircleID commentary on the China-Google dustup and its implications for an open Internet:
China is nowhere near closing for business as it did five centuries ago. One doubts, however, that the Ming emperor knew he was dooming his people for the next couple hundred years, depriving them of the goods and ideas of the coming Industrial Revolution. China’s present day leaders know this history. They know technology. They know turning away from global trade and communication would doom them far more surely than would an open Internet.
After yesterday’s federal court ruling against the FCC’s overreaching net neutrality regulations, which we have dedicated considerable time and effort combatting for the last seven years, Holman Jenkins says it well:
Hooray. We live in a nation of laws and elected leaders, not a nation of unelected leaders making up rules for the rest of us as they go along, whether in response to besieging lobbyists or the latest bandwagon circling the block hauled by Washington’s permanent “public interest” community.
This was the reassuring message yesterday from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals aimed at the Federal Communications Commission. Bottom line: The FCC can abandon its ideological pursuit of the “net neutrality” bogeyman, and get on with making the world safe for the iPad.
The court ruled in considerable detail that there’s no statutory basis for the FCC’s ambition to annex the Internet, which has grown and thrived under nobody’s control.
. . .
So rather than focusing on new excuses to mess with network providers, the FCC should tackle two duties unambiguously before it: Figure out how to liberate the nation’s wireless spectrum (over which it has clear statutory authority) to flow to more market-oriented uses, whether broadband or broadcast, while also making sure taxpayers get adequately paid as the current system of licensed TV and radio spectrum inevitably evolves into something else.
Second: Under its media ownership hat, admit that such regulation, which inhibits the merger of TV stations with each other and with newspapers, is disastrously hindering our nation’s news-reporting resources and brands from reshaping themselves to meet the opportunities and challenges of the digital age. (Willy nilly, this would also help solve the spectrum problem as broadcasters voluntarily redeployed theirs to more profitable uses.)
See our RealClearMarkets commentary contrasting mounting Washington liabilities versus America’s key strategic assets. We also outline a new Internet paradigm for cloud-based video and software streaming that will create new digital content models, boost Web traffic, and require an ever more broadband Internet.
the graphics chip revolution will have a deep impact on the network. High-definition video requires big bandwidth, and real-time applications tolerate very little delay. UC-San Diego estimates that 55% of total American information consumption, or 1,991 exabytes per year, is (brace yourself) video games. If just 10% of these games moved online, they would generate twice the worldwide Internet traffic of 2008. Video is not always the most important content on the Web, but it defines the architecture and capacity of (and often pays for) the networks, data centers, and software that make all the Web’s wonders possible.
Later this week the FCC will accept the first round of comments in its “Open Internet” rule making, commonly known as Net Neutrality. Never mind that the Internet is already open and it was never strictly neutral. Openness and neutrality are two appealing buzzwords that serve as the basis for potentially far reaching new regulation of our most dynamic economic and cultural sector — the Internet.
I’ll comment on Net Neutrality from several angles over the coming days. But a terrific essay by Berkeley’s Jaron Lanier impelled me to begin by summarizing some of the big meta-arguments that have been swirling the last few years and which now broadly define the opposing sides in the Net Neutrality debate. See the first in a new series of posts on Internet innovation and possible Net Neutrality regulations »
In Monday’s Wall Street Journal, I address the once-again raging topic of “net neutrality” regulation of the Web. On September 21, new FCC chair Julius Genachowski proposed more formal neutrality regulations. Then on September 25, AT&T accused Google of violating the very neutrality rules the search company has sought for others. The gist of the complaint was that the new Google Voice service does not connect all phone calls the way other phone companies are required to do. Not an earthshaking matter in itself, but a good example of the perils of neutrality regulation. Continue reading this entry »
Send the bits with lasers and chips
See the bytes with LED lights
Wireless, optical, bandwidth boom
A flood of info, a global zoom
Now comes Lessig
Now comes Wu
To tell us what we cannot do
The Net, they say,
Is under attack
Before we can’t turn back
They know best
These coder kings
So they prohibit a billion things
What is on their list of don’ts?
Most everything we need the most
To make the Web work
We parse and label
We tag the bits to keep the Net stable
The cloud is not magic
It’s routers and switches
It takes a machine to move exadigits
Now Lessig tells us to route is illegal
To manage Net traffic, Wu’s ultimate evil
Read the rest of this entry »
Today, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski proposed new regulations on communications networks. We were among the very first opponents of these so-called “net neutrality” rules when they were first proposed in concept back in 2004. Here are a number of our relevant articles over the past few years:
- “Let There Be Bandwidth” – The Wall Street Journal, March 7, 2006
- “The Coming Exaflood” – The Wall Street Journal, January 20, 2007
- “Unleashing the ‘Exaflood'” – The Wall Street Journal, February 22, 2008
- “Bandwidth Boom: Measuring U.S. Communications Capacity from 2000 to 2008” – Entropy Economics, June 24, 2009
With an agreement between the U.S. Department of Commerce and ICANN (the nonprofit Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers, headquartered in California) expiring on September 30, global bureaucrats salivate. As I write today in Forbes, they like to criticize ICANN leadership — hoping to gain political control — but too often ignore the huge success of the private-sector-led system.
How has the world fared under the existing model?
In the 10 years of the Commerce-ICANN relationship, Web users around the globe have grown from 300 million to almost 2 billion. World Internet traffic blossomed from around 10 million gigabytes per month to almost 10billion, a near 1,000-fold leap. As the world economy grew by approximately 50%, Internet traffic grew by 100,000%. Under this decade of private sector leadership, moreover, the number of Internet users in North America grew around 150% while the number of users in the rest of the world grew almost 600%. World growth outpaced U.S. growth.
Can we really digest this historic shift? In this brief period, the portion of the globe’s population that communicates electronically will go from negligible to almost total. From a time when even the elite accessed relative spoonfuls of content, to a time in the near future when the masses will access all recorded information.
These advances do not manifest a crisis of Internet governance.
As for a real crisis? See what happens when politicians take the Internet away from the engineers who, in a necessarily cooperative fashion, make the whole thing work. Criticism of mild U.S. government oversight of ICANN is hardly reason to invite micromanagement by an additional 190 governments.