Susan Crawford – at the Dublin Science Gallery

Last week I saw Susan Crawford at the Dublin Science Gallery. I really enjoyed her presentation as a wake up to the importance of broadband – and understanding broadband policy. It’s not always easy – but it’s worth the effort. I have to say that the questions made it uncomfortable to be an American – our Irish counterparts are wondering why we aren’t paying attention.

The talk she gave was similar to one available on YouTube – so I’m going to cheat a little and share it…

And I wanted to add a few notes from the Irish presentation – and the questions…

Ireland needs independence from private companies. They should be moving to open access networks. Also there should be low interest long term financing available. Then there’s a shift to making fiber a utility. Then the private companies can try to compete with fiber.

World’s Fairs were demonstrations of electricity. We need to go through same change. We need a World’s Fair to demonstrate uses of fiber – in places such as the Science Gallery.

Then need to elect people who want to bring fiber to every home. Health, education, jobs will follow.


Why are we where we are?

Michael Powell believed that competition would protect consumers. But it didn’t happen because of the difference in barrier to entry for cable. The influence of incumbents is also a factor. It takes a while for folks to understand the issues.

Net Neutrality is the white bird on top of the hippo. It’s a small issue compared to the rest of the issue. Lack of abundance is a bigger issue. It’s difficult to imagine America building something like the highway system now.

Does government have a big vision?

No but the 20 year olds do have a big vision. My plan is to get college students interested in public service and making these issues “vote worthy” issues. There is a crisis – like banking. Communications issue is getting to be an issue. Having demonstration communities should help.

American consumers are like the frog being slowly boiled.

Would public-private partnerships help?

Private companies have built the networks; but have included public obligations. You should have to choose between providing transport or content.

How are public networks illegal?

Localities make it difficult to enter the market. Look at North Carolina, South Carolina are looking to make state laws.

What about creating a regulator in the US?

Government actors believe they are doing the best. They need to understand that this is a bipartisan, political issue. Political will must give cover to government workers to allow this to happen. FCC could do this.

Can you force companies to reach far areas?

In exchange for serving rich areas; you must serve other areas. Urban areas do subsidize rural areas. It should be part of the equation.

People need to understand the network. Stockholm has done a wonderful job building a proper network.

This entry was posted in Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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