Tuesday, March 8, 2005 - The Progress & Freedom Foundation Blog

Independent Pipes (or POPs Providers)

I happily leave most of the blogging about the Grokster case to Jim DeLong and my IP colleagues. But the following quote in a story [subscription required] in today's Tech Daily by Drew Clark caught my eye:

"The telcos are getting more and more used to thinking of themselves as service providers and as pipes independent of content," said Alan Davidson, associate director of the Center for Democracy and Technology. Cable companies "think of themselves in closed relationships with content providers, even though the growth of their industry is coming from broadband."

It's a bit odd for Davidson to say that the telcos are getting more and more used to thinking of themselves as "pipes independent of content" when, as a matter of law, that is what they have been required to be for the last 75 years or so. In other words, they have been classified as common carriers required to transport content indiscriminately. And, it is said even today, by some, that the telcos have "a common carrier mentality" to refer to a way of thinking about themselves.

But my impression is that they are trying to shed not only the common carrier classification, with all that it implies, but the common carrier mentality. And, in today's competitive environment, it would be odd not to try, which means not wanting to be locked into a position of being deemed a POPs (plain 'ol pipes) provider. ["POPs Providers" is Copyrighted 2005-RJM].

posted by Randolph May @ 4:46 PM | Communications