Washington D.C. — Guess what: One of the pioneers and inventors of Ethernet technology, Bob Metcalfe, believes that Net Neutrality and the regulation of the Internet is a colossal mistake.
“Right now the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] is being asked by the White House to invade this party we are having here,” said Metcalfe, speaking here at the Metro Ethernet Forum’s (MEF) GEN14 conference. “They are playing with fire. They are inviting the government to come in and regulate the Internet.”
Metcalfe likened the federal government’s efforts, as well as those by Net Neutrality supporters such as Google and Yahoo, as a decision that that the Internet was “done.”
“Is the Internet done?” asked Metcalfe, “Is it time to harvest it? No, it’s not done. It’s not time to control, and regulate, and tax the Internet.”
This is not a big surprise. Metcalfe, the former founder of 3Com and now Professor of Innovation at University of Texas, Austin, has been a long-time supporter of market-based innovation. He called the MEF GEN14 as the “opposite meeting” of the Net Neutrality meetings. In this opposite meeting, service providers and network technology providers are trying to figure out how to improve and innovate on the Internet — which would include dynamic, tiered classes of services — rather than handing it over to regulators.
The politicians and lobbyists have forgotten what it was like back when the FCC regulated the communications network, said Metcalfe.
“They don’t remember when the FCC ran the network, back when I needed an acoustic coupler because nobody was allowed to connect to the network because it was too dangerous,” he said. Metcalfe appeared to hold special disdain for Google’s support of Net Neutrality. He repeated several times that Google was “playing with fire,” since it enjoys an unregulated position as the world’s largest Internet advertiser.
“They are inviting the government to come in and regulate the Internet. They are playing with fire. Maybe it’s not fair for them to put their ad on the front of Google’s Web page. Maybe the government should regulate that, and the ad placed on the [Google home page] can be determined by lottery.”