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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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Pundits ponder a Public Information Superhighway ...

Above: The best 13 minutes in the history of television.

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It would be a shame if UTOPIA went nowhere — George Pyle | The Salt Lake Tribune

" ... UTOPIA carries online traffic to a woefully small number of customers. And a debt that now hovers well upward of half a billion dollars, serviced by the taxpayers of the 11 cities whose leaders a dozen years ago envisioned a world in which super a high-speed Internet connection would be as basic to any community’s infrastructure as its roads, bridges and water lines.

"That highway would carry all kinds of goods and services offered mostly by the private, for-profit sector, in the same way that publicly built and serviced highways carry delivery trucks operated by many different companies whose services are for hire.

" ... This is similar to the "net neutrality" battle, fought before the Federal Communications Commission, between those who favor the public highway concept of the Internet and those who want to let the owners of the pipeline charge different prices for different levels of service, creating two, or more, levels of access that would benefit the rich and the connected.

"And those providers are the very people who would just love to see UTOPIA fail. To see it be forced to sell off its assets at fire sale prices, so they could take over service to the most profitable areas, at the greatest possible mark-up, and leave taxpayers holding the bag for their failed dream of a public information super-highway that would belong to everyone. ...

"... UTOPIA might not be long for this world. If it dies, it would be a shame. Such a basic function of modern life should be provided by an outfit that exists to serve its customers, rather than a corporation that exists for the sole purpose of taking people’s money away from them and giving it to their stockholders and managers. ..."

Back broadband with tax exemption — Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune Editorial

"Wyoming must be wired.

"Just as roads crisscross the state, creating valuable corridors for commerce and tourism, the state’s wire and communication lines are vital to the future of the state’s economy.

"That’s why we ask that state lawmakers look favorably on a recent request by the Wyoming Telecommunications Association. The group wants the Legislature to OK a sales and use tax exemption, essentially a tax loophole, for the broadband industry on things such as fiber optics, coaxial cabling and wireless towers. ..."

— Searching for Fairness on the Internet — New York Times Editorial

— Staying true to net neutralityLos Angeles Times Editorial

— Make your voices heard on FCC’s plan to limit net neutralitySeattle Times Editorial

— FCC plan guts net neutrality; open Web needs protection — Boston Globe Editorial

"The unprecedented flow of information on the Internet occurs largely because all sites have equal access to users. The principle is called net neutrality: No Internet service provider can give preference to, or discriminate against, a website by changing the speed at which consumers can access its content. In practice, it means upstart companies can introduce innovative ideas without first gaining the favor of broadband firms like Comcast, Verizon, or AT&T.

"In January, though, a federal judge struck down Federal Communications Commission rules enforcing net neutrality. Proposed new regulations championed by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler won’t fix the damage; they’d do the opposite, by allowing companies to pay broadband providers for faster transmission of their own content. ..."

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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