Don Marti

Wed 18 Nov 2009 02:45:15 PM PST

Property rights and Net Neutrality

This photo shows a virtual, alternative Alameda.

Phone company job

It's a mockup to show proposed new AT&T network gear to be installed on a public sidewalk in Alameda, California. As an Alameda resident, I got it in my postal mail as part of the city approval process. (The brown box is already there. The light green box isn't there yet, and AT&T is asking the city for permission to put it there.)

Both boxes, existing and planned, are on the public sidewalk. And the lines that connect to them run under the same sidewalk. And that's the missing part of the whole "Net Neutrality" debate. It's not just about the big bad government trying to regulate the fiber owner's private property, it's about whether or not the fiber owner can obtain rights of way under one usage model, then convert them to another.

Net-based businesses depend on fiber, but the fiber installers depend on the goodwill of property owners and local governments. If the companies that run the fiber are the "pipeholders", don't forget about the "dirtholders."