“Why Bandwidth Is the Oil of the Information Economy”

Tim Wu, one of the country’s most prominent copyright and net neutrality warriors, has a worthwhile op-ed piece in the New York Times today. Some of the nifty bits:

AMERICANS today spend almost as much on bandwidth — the capacity to move information — as we do on energy. A family of four likely spends several hundred dollars a month on cellphones, cable television and Internet connections, which is about what we spend on gas and heating oil.

Just as the industrial revolution depended on oil and other energy sources, the information revolution is fueled by bandwidth. If we aren’t careful, we’re going to repeat the history of the oil industry by creating a bandwidth cartel.

Like energy, bandwidth is an essential economic input. You can’t run an engine without gas, or a cellphone without bandwidth. Both are also resources controlled by a tight group of producers, whether oil companies and Middle Eastern nations or communications companies like AT&T, Comcast and Vodafone. That’s why, as with energy, we need to develop alternative sources of bandwidth…

Ok, that’s enough of a teaser. Go read the essay. I will only say that Lafayette should have been mentioned when he brought up Utah and Amsterdam. Suffice it to say that Mr. Wu thinks Lafayette’s solution to the bandwidth monopoly is a good one.

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