The New York City Council is voting on a resolution this morning supporting the idea that Internet service providers cannot discriminate against web traffic on their networks. As gestures go, this resolution supporting net neutrality is more symbolic than it is useful, and to that end has already yielded a couple of photos of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg shaking hands and looking concerned about the future of NYC broadband.
However, New York City is a nice case study for competitive broadband, so I hope Genachowski took notes while he was there. Verizon, (s vz) Time Warner Cable (s twc) and Cablevision (s cvs) all serve the city (although they don’t all compete head to head in every block), so some residents there have access to both fiber to the home and cable’s wideband service using DOCSIS 3.0. Our own Ryan Lawler, who lives in Harlem, is paying $33 a month for Internet service from Time Warner Cable, which currently has the monopoly in his building. However, he says he just got a note informing him that Verizon FiOS will also soon be available, so we’ll see what happens to his cable speeds (which are currently 9 Mbps down and 500 kilobits per second up) and service in the next few months.
The state’s CIOwants to collect real data on broadband penetration and speeds so that it can get a sense of customers’ level of satisfaction with their service as opposed to just knowing which areas have broadband and which don’t. A Congressman from the state is also attempting to pass legislation that would give the FCC the power to regulate certain aspects of net neutrality and broadband access. So given the competition, better data collection and consumer-friendly legislative efforts, I hope Genachowski is doing some learning, not just politicking for a symbolic victory on net neutrality.