Bob's your uncle

Apologies for the abstruse British slang in the title, but Bob Frankston has excelled himself in framing the network neutrality and muni network debates. It?s simple: he?s just switched the metaphors of sidewalks (pavements) and local access networks. The absurdity of the situation becomes clear.

As Bob puts it, why can?t anyone see that it?s nothing to do with ?networks? at all really ? the moment you get beyond the central office and start worrying about discrimination between Google bits and MSN bits, you?ve already passed the bottleneck. Network neutrality is a mis-framed debate.

Another salient point: in a local access network with a star topology, there?s NO congestion. Ever. It?s only once someone hooks up a ?service? that you have a rivalrous resource. That matters, because we don?t need to engage markets and the price mechanism for non-rivalrous resources. Once we?ve built the access, muni-like capital ownership isn?t an issue. I even wonder if this means a muni net should shy away from interconnecting people who are attached to the same central office/exchange? The logical answer is that they should not go beyond the physical access ? no routing allowed (bar exceptions for emergency service use etc).

Now, where did I put my sidewalk smartcard pass and secure RFID shoes?