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December 19, 2014

Would Bandwith ‘Abundance’ Resolve the Net Neutrality Debate?

To Blair Levin, who oversaw the development of the National Broadband Plan, the debate over net neutrality is both old and will be ongoing — and he sees bandwith abundance as the solution in the meantime.

Summarizing commentary he wrote after a court decision earlier this year that rebuffed the bulk of the FCC’s 2010 “open Internet” rules, Levin said Tuesday that net neutrality has been debated for 10 years and will be debated for another 10 years.

“In the meantime, can we just figure out a way to create bandwidth abundance?” said Levin, a fellow at the Aspen Institute. It’s happening in cities like Kansas City and Chatanooga, Tenn., he said, also mentioning a public-private project in Champagne and Urbana in Illinois.

“If you just get in a world where … people are trying to figure out whether to buy 5 megs or 10 megs, paid prioritization may matter. If people are kind of affordably getting a gig,” it’s not a big issue, he said.

Corrected June 11, 1:25 p.m.

This post has been clarified with respect to Levin’s comments on the role that municipal broadband networks play in “bandwith abundance.”

Here’s part of a note Levin sent to Technocrat:

I do want to clarify that I am an advocate of bandwidth abundance, through much faster networks, but that is not the same as municipal networks. Most of the gigabit projects I have worked on involve private providers. While the Plan and Gig.U support the right of municipalities to offer such networks, our advocacy is business model agnostic and understands there are many paths up the mountain.

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