Silicon Flatirons: Welcome Back, Net Neutrality!

February 8, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. — I apologize beforehand for the expected brevity of this post; since it’s late here in Boulder I really don’t have the time to give justice to the incredible explosion of energy that was Day 1 of this year’s Silicon Flatirons conference here. But stay tuned for more posts this week, because there was a massive amount of intellectual interchange that deserves a wider audience than the folks who crammed the CU Law School auditorium for a full day of discussion on “Imagining the Internet’s Future,” the stated title of the yearly confab hosted by Phil Weiser and the great team here at CU.

And despite the conference’s attempts to cloak the topic in a different title, there was no escaping the idea of net neutrality Sunday. As we said in our net neutrality report from last summer, an Obama victory would probably mean the advent of some form of net neutrality legislation or regulation in 2009. Sunday in Boulder this idea was such a given that most of the discussion was centered around not if, but HOW the new regulatory agenda would or should proceed in 2009, with complete overhauls of the FCC and its goals something under serious consideration.

Perhaps even more important to note at first was the mood of the event, which seemed a little bit like what might have happened after the Jedis blew up the Death Star in the last good Star Wars movie. With the repressive FCC regime of Kevin Martin now thankfully relegated to history, intelligent folks from all sides of the political spectrum seemed genuinely passionate and excited about the prospect of real change for the better, using telecom policy as a way to jump-start entrepreneurs and business in general to help get the country’s economy moving forward again.

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Broadband Policy: Boring, but Important

February 11, 2008

BOULDER, Colo. — Here at the Silicon Flatirons telecom policy conference, you don’t need to convince anyone about the importance of broadband policy and all its related aftereffects. The real challenge, of course, is making broadband issues matter to the outside world, especially when a pending change in the White House presents an opportunity to bring real leadership and vision to the country’s information policy direction.

From both sides of the political aisle, and from all different competitive parts of the industry, there was violent agreement here during Sunday’s sessions about the need to elevate the image of broadband policy in the ongoing political process. While other hot-button issues like the war in Iraq, health care and education rightly are political priorities, the ability for broadband to enable and improve all the other directives means it’s time to stop ignoring the need for leadership and vision in information technology — even if the topic is as boring as hell.

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Telecom Policy Gets Shaped in Boulder

February 11, 2008

It’s been a pretty amazing day of discourse at this year’s Silicon Flatirons conference, hosted at the University of Colorado by Phil Weiser and the rest of the Silicon Flatirons gang. It’s going to take some time to process all the thoughts, opinions and even insider telco humor that reverberated inside the spiffy new CU law building during Sunday’s sessions, but stay tuned because there was as usual some great stuff about topics like network neutrality, why communications should matter more and what industry, politicians and the public at large should do to make broadband better. I am still doing some news posts on the conference for the GigaOM blog, so after I’m done with that I plan to weigh in with some more thoughts here.

As a tease, let me say that it is no small feat to get so many big personalities in the world of telecom, media and communications into one small auditorium — from commissioners from the FTC and FCC, to top execs from companies like Comcast, Google and Verizon to the leading legal and policy thought leaders — and then get them to not just speak, but to challenge each other and respond to the multiple queries from the just-as-wired members of the audience. More soon, after a break for dinner.

Update: More tomorrow, not tonight. Promise!