Upload Shmupload

The National Broadband Plan is hailed as 21st century’s Interstate Highway construction program. I agree it is. What I don’t agree with however is the thinking that is behind it. The philosophical underpinnings used to set the plan’s goals are 180 degrees wrongheaded in my opinion, and here’s why.file-upload

If you do a little reading, you’ll notice that the plan is entirely focused on download speeds with the idea that being able to receive information at lightening speeds will usher our post-industrial society into the information age at a sufficient pace as to keep us competitive with the rest of the world. Not true.

It is upload speeds that count. Why? Because the Internet revolution is about improving upon the old model: The top-down, one way data dump from content and information producers to the huddled masses. The Internet is only be truly successful when the huddled masses get a platform, innovate, build a voice, and aggregate their own publics, not visa-versa.

The Internet’s potential to reduce greenhouse gases from telecommuting only comes from robust upload capabilities. Learning requires the ability to upload completed exercises and robust two-way communications. Storytelling and the “public square” function of our democracy require rapid sharing which by definition, requires high capacity uploading. True collaboration, remote access and creativity require the ability to upload, share and modify large files quickly – not just download them.

Promoting ideas that only facilitate the “dumb consumer” passively swallowing large files of movies, music, mainstream media content and advertising relegates the Internet to just another channel for top-down communications. It cuts its potential in half. It will never be a valid “location” for telecommuting or a vibrant platform for creativity and innovation. It’s just another box with lights and wires.

Frankly, if I were a lawmaker, I would require broadband providers who are clamoring for more bandwidth and tax breaks to match their download speeds with their upload speeds. Want to put 100mbps into the home? Well, you had better be prepared to take 100mpbs out too.

The magic price point for now is about $50 for broadband service, but frankly, without a similar boost in upload speeds – I can’t see spending a bunch more to take down any more of “the man’s” messaging.

I’ve always had a problem with having to pay for content that contains advertising – household customers just haven’t figured out that they are a valuable commodity that should be charging back for the privilege of allowing a wire, or a mailbox for that matter, onto the property. Paying for advertising-laden content is just ridiculous, and it’s time for consumers and policy makers to wake up and smell the coffee – starting with getting the goals and incentives in the National Broadband Plan right.