“No one cares about network neutrality.” That is the prediction of Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) PresidentGary Shapiro, who who was scheduled to pull out his crystal ball Wednesday for a speech at the Media Institute on what the communications world of 2021 will look like.
Shapiro has suggested on numerous occasions that it should have fewer broadcasters taking up spectrum space, but did not address that issue having been specifically asked by the Institute to hold forth on some other topic, likely given the wide exposure his “spectrum squatter” criticisms of broadcasters have received already.
So, with tongue slightly in cheek, but method to his mirth, Shapiro ranged far and wide in a speech that mixed extensions of CEA policies to hoped-for conclusions with some observational humor calculated to appeal to the D.C. policy audience regularly in attendance at Media Institute lunches.
Shapiro suggested that the network neutrality issue, which is currently hotter than a pepper sprout, would be all but dead because there would be plenty of ISP competition from land, air and even the local power company.
But, let’s let Gary tell it in his own words, or in his own “embargoed copy of the speech” words, supplied to B&C:
“Net neutrality or open Internet hasn’t yet fully died as an issue - but it is on life support. Recently, theAmerican League of Lobbyists combined with the Greater Washington Association of advertising supported media (co-chaired by Roll Call and WRC-TV) to resurrect the issue. But policymakers from both sides of the aisle refuse to bite because every American can now choose from more than a dozen different broadband providers on multiple platforms.
“In a statement, the Senate Internet Committee (the old Commerce Committee) Chairman and Ranking Member,Senators Clyburn and McDonnell, declared: “Ninety percent of Americans are in a free WiFi zone and also have a choice of wireless broadband providersas well as cable, fiber, satellite and even powerline broadband access choices. The 2016 Internet Telecom Act rewrite requires consumer notice of changes in service terms and conditions, as well as the no-penalty ability to switch Internet carriers. Therefore, we believe that consumer choice trumps mandates on carriers.” The disappointed lobbyists shift to fighting for free health care for all pets.”
Shapiro had a good deal of fun with current events and people projected into his fantasy future. Some highlights:
“Comcast and Viacom successfully pushed MPAA and NCTA to merge. Word leaks that the new MPCTA has approached Senator Meredith Baker to be its first President. But the offer is not extended because of her market-based common sense voting record.”
Editor’s note: Baker is Republican FCC Commissioner and herself a former Media Institute speaker and luncheon guest.
“[T]he bipartisan Competitiveness Commission said antitrust laws other than price fixing and other per seviolations were a costly burden on courts and ambiguous and unnecessary expensive litigation tax on business.
This ended the Department of Justice inquiry in to attempted monopolization of communications law by Wiley Rein.”
Another editor’s note: Dick Wiley, former FCC chairman and the Wiley in Wiley Rein is on the Media Instute board of trustees. The firm’s alumni abound at FCC past and present.
“Senator Lou Dobbs’ proposal to trade the nation’s surplus antitrust and plaintiff’s lawyers to Arab countries in exchange for oil did not pass Congress and had dubious constitutionality.”
Yep, another one of those editor’s notes: Dobbs and Shapiro have squared off, including on Dobb’s former CNN show, on the issues of immigration and trade.
“Television became ubiquitous as wall TV became real. Wallpaper hangers and house painters became video wall installers. Consumers use their video walls for incredible immersive experiences including net-connected video games. The Kinect model 4.0 becomes useful for remote surgery around the world but controversies erupt as it is hooked up to various remote robot avatars which stage fights and demonstrations in public places. The right of assembly is tested in a Supreme Court case as to whether armies of robot avatars can protest in public places.”
And finally, with tongue firmly out of cheek, Shapiro said:
“As we’ve seen in Egypt, technology is a catalyst and a tool for people who strive to be free. Indeed, shutting off the Internet sent more people to the streets. And repressive regimes like North Korea, Cuba and China are united by their desire to restrict the technologies their citizens can use to hear different views and concepts of governance. Technology SAVESlives, as we see through advances in health care. Technology also improves lives as we see though distance learning and broadband-enabled communications tools.”