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Wireless, Net Neutrality and Stump The Band

September 29th, 2010

Front Of House Online, an online magazine and news sight for production professionals (as in event/concert production) has has in introductory piece about how recently released FCC rules seem to set up a serious problem, actually perpetuate an existing problem, of  ‘stump the band’ when it comes to how to use wireless mics, in ear monitors and wireless instrument belt packs without radio interference.

More to the point for most readers of this site though is that the article is also a good starting point for thinking about the net neutrality issue.

Regulating the use of and allocation of radio spectrum is a necessary evil. Consider the following:

  • In the US (and elsewhere) radio frequency spectrum, channels, are considered public property the government must license for use. The government defines what kinds of signals occupy particular channels and charge for the allocation of some those channels as revenue for the state. The state, us, we the people and all that.
  • How that spectrum is allocated impacts your freedom. We choose to give up some individual freedoms to function as part of a society.
  • Federally regulating the use of radio spectrum ensures our car radios work no matter what state we drive in. Insures that our air traffic controllers can be heard by pilots flying planes over our heads rather than being blasted by the local broadcast of Rush Limbaugh who, unregulated, might pick any channel he liked… or all of them.
  • Radio frequencies are as much public property as the little patches of land the ugly poles have been rammed into on the street in front of your house.
  • Just as the government, local, state and federal, all allow the telcos and cable companies to foul our view with ugly poles and wires, block traffic, or worse, dig and poorly patch holes in our streets to lay the cables, they license the use of radio spectrum on our behalf.
  • When our government licenses the use of our property, a balance must be struck to ensure our individual rights are preserved and the needs of the society as a whole are supported.

Net neutrality isn’t just about ensuring free speech, fair rates, balance in media, basic privacy and security.  It’s about how we demand our property be used when selling us services that rely on access to our resources that we licensed to companies to profit from.

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