Those were the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg's words. Not ours. But, we don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment.
More on broadband policy from Walt's conversation with AT&T Sr. EVP James Cicconi and a quick look at the subsequent panel led by Om Malik after the jump.... (all notes wildly paraphrased)....
Mossberg: Interesting to see the mismatch between DC and the tech industry. Those buried in the cocoon of the government had completely missed the tech revolution.
Do the people that run the government get it?
JC: I think it's generational like the larger society. Older folks don't spend the time to learn.
Ted Stevens is actually pretty savvy.
WM: Ted Stevens: Mr. Series of Tubes?
JC: Yes, he is one of the senators who regularly uses email and his computer.
WM: Last week, Skype made a filing with the FCC: Why should wireless phone companies have any control over what can be used on a device? Why can't consumers have greater control over applications on their devices.
In the 1970s, it was illegal for for consumers to connect phones to the network. The phone jack didn't exist. You rented a phone from one company.
Why does AT&T have the right to dictate what applications, devices and servces and can be used on the network?
JC: There is a pretty vibrant system out there now. New devices are coming out constantly. To make sure that things work on their individual network, there needs to be a sense of control because of different systems. We subsidize the devices that allow inclusive contracts -- if there was a big consumer push, this might change, but we don't see it now.
WM: I can go down the street and buy a Mac and connect to any network and download any application. This is not true in your industry. Why can't we separate?
JC: No one in the company is making money on handsets. But, you want consumers to be satisfied and make their experiences as good as possible. Devices have limitations. We want to ensure that everything works properly.
You are seeing Web applications that can get you out of the walled-garden.
You aren't seeing a lack of new devices and applications.
I think we should let the market work.
WM: Me too, and I just don't think it's working.
WM: Net Neutrality:
JC: I think it's in the eye of the beholder. We haven't blocked, impaired people making DSL calls using Skype, etc. But, people are suggesting that how we handle our backbone traffic be regulated.
We are trying to be ready for this flood of traffic that will hit us thanks to video. The internet wasn't built to handle video. This could double the traffic on the Internet. We are worried about this network of network to handle this. We need to build the intelligence into the network to handle this massive increase in traffic.
WM: Why does the US suck at bandwidth? Why does a person pay more here for less? Even France has it better!
JC: In terms of global competitvness, this is a problem. frankly, competition here has only heated up in the last five years. Hopefully has competition increases, we will try to differentiate by providing higher speeds.
WM: It's pathetic.
JC: Some of it has to do with density of population.
WM: Than what about Manhattan?
JC: We are worried about buiid-out, where you have to build out to diversified geographies thanks to regulation.
WM: If the govt was off your back, we could be like France?
JC: To a certain extent. We are in big fights with lots of municipalities to negotiate terms. In other countries, you don't have to do that.
Q: What will it take to get real broadband beyond the buck passing?
JC: We don't have a national broadband policy and we should. We shouldn't have to go state by state to address these concerns.
Om Malik panel:
Thomas Tauke, Verizon
Michael Calabrese, New America Foundation
JC: If YouTube went HD today, it would clog the Internet. Tech pushes the need for broadband.
MC: We push wireless because the investment made by Verizon is too small. They only want to move out Fios to three million homes per years.
AT&T is far worse when you look at what they are doing with LightSpeed. And, their aspiration is to only spread out over 40% of the region that they cover.
TT: It takes a lot of money to invest here. And, Wall Street doesn't reward it at all.
Should we be obsessing about the new TV and not the old TV?
JC: We are deploying a new type of TV: IPTV. You are calling channels down from servers. When it works, you'll be able to pull up any show you want, anytime.
We think that this is going to be disruptive to the cable companies.
TT: Just today, the biggest chunk of what a consumer spends on communications is video. That's why we need to have video as a component in what we focus on.
Today, if you are going to make a case on Wall Street, you need to have video as a component.
OM: Do we need a broadband policy to solve the digital divide in rural areas in the US?
MC: We need to be actively promoting community-wide wireless networks. The big cities are getting the attention, but rural areas got this going and provide the best examples for success. In Alaska, wifi is being provided to 200 villages that don't have telephones.
What they need is more access to the airwaves.
JC: Multiple policies are going to solve this.