Posted by The Oregonian December 08, 2007 08:00AM
When broadband internet arrived in Washington, D.C., back in 1998, I was first in line to sign up. I loved the zippy performance and the fact that my provider kept lowering my monthly charges, even as it tripled the speeds.
Upon arrival in Portland last year, I was dismayed to find my broadband choices were limited: Qwest or Comcast. I felt like I had gone back in time: much higher prices, uploads at the anemic speed I had nearly a decade ago -- 20 percent as fast as my prior service.
I had little choice but to opt for Comcast's "premium" business-class service -- twice the price for half the speed of my prior service. Verizon tantalizes me with its speedy FIOS, but can't legally encroach on Qwest's territory.
As a full-time telecommuter and business owner, broadband Internet is not a luxury, it is critical to my livelihood. My music production company relies heavily on upload bandwidth to deliver weekly syndicated radio shows and other content to clients around the world.
With the U.S. trailing well behind Europe and Asia in broadband speed and access, our region is being placed at a further competitive disadvantage against other high-tech cities around the world, but there are deeper issues at stake.
It turns out Comcast doesn't even deliver the "Unlimited Internet" they advertised -- they've been caught disrupting traffic to the legal peer-sharing services I utilize to upload material. Speed is irrelevant if Comcast sabotages uploads to prevent their completion.
As the nation's largest cable operator (and second largest Internet provider), Comcast already wields tremendous media power. Do we really want such monopolies to determine which content and programming we can access?
By segregating traffic, Comcast could penalize startup competitors wanting to offer movies and TV via internet. Their corporate boards could stifle dissenting political opinions by blocking subscribers' access to specific sites.
I urge readers to support the "Net Neutrality" legislation in Congress to protect the open access and standards of equality that make the Internet so valuable a resource.