It surprises many people that such a gap exists. But, thanks to the Bell-cable duopoly, the fecklessness of copyright owners, and the wrong-headed policies of the Bush Administration, the gap is real. And growing.
Eliminating the gap requires that we change our politics, which enable the gap. That means encouraging competition, demanding accountability. Those who know about such things complain that they lack a champion.
It will be hard to find such champions in today’s Washington. Thanks to merger mania and the Bells’ political contributions (they acquired many of the companies that were opposing them in Washington, or drove them out of business) most incumbents are bought-and-paid-for.
It may be necessary, then, for advocates of common sense, of open spectrum, open source, and eliminating the Broadband Gap, to look toward challengers for our champions.
Here is one possibility. Pete Ashdown. Ashdown himself is a former ISP, founder of XMission, a Utah ISP. Ashdown knows about the Broadband Gap, the Bells’ hoarding of bandwidth, and the history of the cable-Bell duopoly better than any other challenger this cycle, because he has lived it.
Now for the bad news.
For one thing, Ashdown is running for Senator from Utah, about the reddest of the red states, a state where President Bush still has a positive approval rating.
For another thing, Ashdown is a Democrat.
More important, Ashdown’s opponent is the powerful Orrin Hatch, chair of the Judiciary Committee (right).
Yet the fight must be made.
Hatch has been among the worst Senators on copyright, mainly because he has written some really bad country songs and thinks he’s being ripped-off by music pirates.
Hatch is an ass, an embarrassment. He is a true Luddite, devoted to the politics of monopoly, and taking him out — even coming close to taking him out — would scare a lot of other incumbents into getting some backbone against the Bells.
It’s a chance worth taking.