Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Werbach on Rifkin's marginal cost internet

Here's Kevin Werbach commenting on Rifkin's marginal cost internet, the foundation for his project.

"The marginal cost of connectivity is virtually zero, but the up-front expenses of building high-speed broadband networks are massive. [...] The potential benefits of a world of cheap digital connectivity are titanic, both in economic and social terms. It's far from certain, however, that we'll get there along the current market and policy trajectory."

"As Rifkin points out in his book, unlicensed wireless devices point the way to another model. [...] Various providers are deploying WiFi access points that automatically function as public or community hubs. And TV White Spaces, the 'super-WiFi' technology that Rifkin mentions, is finally ready for widespread commercialization. If open wireless connectivity continues to grow, it might overcome the paradox of network infrastructure funding."

"There's only one problem: This outcome requires policy decisions in the near future that are far from certain. [...] The FCC and other agencies have to decide just how strongly they care about unleashing an open wireless future."

"Rifkin reminds us this is not a choice between profit-seeking private actors and some collectivist sense of well-being. The road to the connected commons runs directly through the valley of capitalist dynamism. Even today's incumbent operators can and should participate in building a new collaborative network ecosystem. We will only get there, however, if we make the right choices."

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