Video Of The Week: A History Lesson On Why We Need Neutral Networks

My partner Brad went down to Chattanooga where they have a gigabit fiber network around the city and attended an event about connectivity and what it does for society.

In this short (~10mins) talk he gives a history lesson on how we got permissionless innovation on the Internet and why we could lose it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. bsoist

    Very interesting to look back and learn from the past. Also an important point that regulation is not the only solution. I’m glad people are working on increasing competition.

  2. jason wright

    so mesh networks will maroon these monopolists?

  3. LE

    My partner Brad went down to Chattanooga where they have a gigabit fiber network around the city and attended an event about connectivity and what it does for society.Here’s an example of why it can be bad to have to get permission.I’m curious what the marketing benefit of Brad doing a speech in Chattanooga is, and how that specifically may at some point benefit USV vs. the time spent as well as the cost of doing so. Who is in the audience? What roles do they play relative to any future upside for USV?Separately along the same lines that is “marketing” it would be a good idea to make sure when anyone is introduced and is speaking, or their name appears on an overlay, slide etc, it’s done as “Brad Burnham of “U” “S” “V” dotcom, “Union Square Ventures”. Not just “Brad Burnham of Union Square Ventures”. Easier to remember 3 letters than three words. Also Union Square can be confused by some as “Union Station”. So you say both not one or the other. I know it’s not your style to be overlay pushy but in this case you might as well get the most bang for the buck.

  4. LE

    Forget to mention “nice speech”. Liked the part regarding prior to divestiture. Very true that ATT was built around public duty and they were able to maintain that mission as a result of the monopoly and the guaranteed money that they earned. Guys just sitting around thinking how to make everything perfect with near 100% uptime. If you got work done by an ATT or a Bell Telephone union guy it was done with the highest workman like quality. All the cables were bundled and tied off properly not the crap that you get today. Took the time needed to get the job done right. Not just throwing stuff at the fan.Attached photos of what comcast does as an example (many others). After a complaint they came back and properly buried the cable and fixed the loop outside the building. The unintended consequences of competition. Poor workmanship.

  5. pointsnfigures

    “From dial up to broadband, less competition-but more speed.” Cable companies entered market-gave faster service at a cheaper price. FCC seems to be the problem, not the private companies. Private companies responding to economic incentives set up by regulator.Maybe what should happen is less regulation and determination from the FCC, not the other way around. It seems former precedents are creating poor decision making alleys today.On the flip side, as humans we can survive without the internet. It’s not fun. It’s more expensive. Life is inefficient.1000% agree with Brad on setting up regulations for intense competition. More rules aren’t going to do that. Guess it’s like asking the FCC for permission.

  6. William Mougayar

    Yeah, what happened to all the Telco’s doing the honorable thing, and having a sense of duty about it? We gave them our home address, and they’ve been taking us to the cleaners since then.

    1. Joe Cardillo

      Part of me agrees w/Brad’s notes about the applications vs. service layer, but there’s this problem in that Comcast is deeper into applications than people realize via it’s media technology / content delivery activities.I just don’t know if you can have a service provider of the underlying network structure also be in the business of deciding (especially via public markets & via ad revenue) what innovations need to happen at the applications level. I hope there’s something I’m missing here…?

      1. William Mougayar

        But they compete on those services in an unregulated market, no? So, it’s kind of there for them as a separate business, but not tied or conditional to the regulated ones, if I’m not mistaken.

        1. Joe Cardillo

          Well, yes and no. As I understand it Comcast is on both sides of the fence currently…a strict interpretation is that they are simply providing bandwidth (cable, internet, etc…) and so aren’t in the business of dictating what content occurs and the specific innovations that deliver that content (this view = Comcast as a highly regulated entity).On the other hand, they have an interest in and are at least somewhat involved in the way that content is delivered and the content itself…as evidenced by the Netflix dispute (consider that premium programs on cable TV are very much a direct competitor to original programming on Netflix, Amazon, etc… and Comcast depends on that content to justify subscription pricing).I’m actually partially sympathetic to the situation they’re in b/c a lot of it has to do with the way Congress & FCC adjusted / allocated spectrum in ’96 and ’00 and didn’t address / define broadcast on the web…but I don’t see how the provider vs. delivery innovation & content creation can exist without influence on each other.Bottom line: when it comes to net neutrality Comcast is unsurprisingly taking actions within a regulated industry to specifically benefit their interests in lesser or un-regulated markets. I’d argue that has a chilling effect on innovation.

  7. iggyfanlo

    This is such an interesting event horizon… for those companies, like cable providers, they’ve done exactly what their business school teachers and VCs would have pushed them too… an almost unassailable position in a highly desired space… but once you get there and it’s SO highly desired, it can become an “essential service or utility” and now extracting monopoly rents and throttling content and becoming the “editor or censor” seems anti-people… it’s a strange one…

  8. Matt Zagaja

    Connecticut is working towards getting gigabit Internet in its towns and cities and recently opened a RFQ looking for partners to develop these networks:…. This is being championed by our Comptroller, Kevin Lembo who wrote a great op-ed at:….

  9. BobFrankston

    The points about the value of permissioniess connectivity are on the mark but neutral pipes aren’t enough — to get real permissionless connectivity we opportunity in form of open infrastructure. The problems with Netflix are deeper than “first mile” and go to the very nature of telecommunications ( This means funding our infrastructure like we fund streets rather than limiting innovation only to applications that generate profitable traffic.(Quibble — modems predated Carterfone)

  10. William Mougayar

    Just curious why Chattanooga? I had to look it up to realize it’s the 4th largest city in Tennessee, with a pop of 167,000. I had it mentally confused with Cheektowaga, NY.

    1. Christopher Mitchell

      Chattanooga has what many consider to be the most advanced, best Internet access in the United States. The city built it – via the Electric Power Board, the city-run municipal electric utility.

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks. I didn’t know that.