It is inherently dangerous to a democracy for all of its telecommunications infrastructure to be held in the hands of unelected and unaccountable private actors with no obligation to behave in a nondiscriminatory manner. Municipal networks by their nature answer directly to the local community and their policies are subject to scrutiny and modification by public action, if need be at the ballot box. The preservation of a system of mixed public and private ownership of telecommunications infrastructure is essential to maintaining the free flow of information unfettered by the economic interests of dominant private actors. ,
Dewayne Hendricks Explains the Forgotton National Information Infrastructure - Community Broadband Bits #34
Have you heard of the National Information Infrastructure, or the NII? Most of us either haven't, or have forgotten we once knew what it could be. Dewayne Hendricks joins us to remind us what it was and why we should care. It's "kind of a big thing." Since we conducted this interview, unlicensed spectrum issues became a hot topic; listen below to get a better sense of just how important this issue is.
In our discussion, Dewayne walks us through the original vision, one that now seems fanciful: a world of mobile devices that interconnect with each other on the wireless networks that surround us. While we do have wireless networks in most places, they are often controlled by a few companies, like Verizon and AT&T, that restrict how we can use them and how our devices can talk to each other.
But the NII was to be more decentralized, creating much more space for entreprenuers and innovators to create new business models. A few massive corporations were able to change that vision, creating a lucrative role for themselves as gatekeepers along the way.
Dewayne started this conversation by recommending a 1995 filing by Apple [pdf]. Whether you read it before or after our conversation, it is worth taking a look.
Dewayne has previously joined us to discuss wireless generally and then later to talk about the wired vs. wireless debate. A previous interview with Bruce Kushnick is also referenced over the course of this interview.
We want your feedback and suggestions for the show - please e-mail us or leave a comment below. Also, feel free to suggest other guests, topics, or questions you want us to address.
Thanks to mojo monkeys for the music, licensed using Creative Commons.