David Isenberg has been appointed as an expert adviser to the FCC. This is not your run-of-the-mill stuffed shirt appointments story, it's much more than that. This is a sign of how far the communications agency has swung since the appointment of Julius Genachowski as FCC chairman earlier this year. And it bodes well for those who expect the FCC to follow through on its neutrality rhetoric. By Ian Scales
That's because if Julius Genachowski was planning to compromise with the anti-neutrality brigade it would be the stupidest (sorry) move imaginable to put a ticking bomb like Isenberg into a neutrality advisory position: any major backsliding and he'd not only walk, he'd slam doors and kick the cat on the way out.
To recap for those who don't know, Isenberg was the man who invented the 'stupid network' theory in 1997 while working in (of all places) AT&T Bell Labs.
This elegant essay (read it here: The Rise of the Stupid Network - it's still good) sets out the case for neutrality (although we didn't know it then) by pointing out that the success of the Internet could be traced back to its stupidity - instead of trying to do clever, high level things inside the network, he pointed out, it just enabled end systems to exchange data. That openness sped innovation.
If we wanted the Internet to remain an innovation hotspot we'd better make sure nobody tried to fiddle with the protocols as he knew they would (try that is).
Consequently Isenberg has been beating the stupidity drum for 12 years and now he'll be part of the team that delivers the National Broadband Plan to Congress in February.
What happens after that, he doesn't know.
Just by chance, TelecomTV is running an interactive event which touches on these issues - in fact we're calling it The Rise of the Open Telco, partly in homage to the essay.
We think there is finally some movement from telcos to embrace the Internet rather than fight it.
In particular, we detect a strategy rethink in the light of the likely imposition of neutrality in the US and the general triumph of Isenberg's 'stupid network' as evidenced by the continuing growth and utility of the thing, long after it was supposed to have 'ground to a halt'.
So please join us this Thursday, November 19, at GMT 1.00pm (1300 hours) where these issues will be discussed live. Find out more here
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