Rules of the Road on an Information Superhighway

Was just reading the latest post at the Broadband.gov website, and I’m a bit taken back by the post, and a the same time see it as one of those calls to action.

The post highlights that with better mobile devices (like the iPad) that people will want to more often use wireless data networks. And this makes sense as wireless pipes work best to deliver context-appropriate information as its needed.

The analogy given was how in 1996/97, how AOL needed to do work on their end as a service provider to ensure that these new “internet” surfers were getting exactly what they were paying for. Such is the case on our informational roads now.

The fear that has been often said is that with the rise of the use of mobile devices on these networks, that the idea of “unlimited” usage needs to change. Well, to some extent, I agree. But, I also think that the roads need to be addressed just the same.

Many people are familiar with the term “rules of the road.” One of these rules has to do with travel lanes and passing lanes. When someone is traveling – driving, biking, walking at a cruising speed – they should give right of way to those persons who are traveling faster, and do so to their left. And this works well in areas where there is limited physical space to make more lanes. If you will, get over to the right and let yourself get passed. Now, this is behavioral, but its also a function of the road system.

Such measures need to be designed into networks, and then the manufacturers and services that access them. And then the right behavior needs to be rewarded. I don’t know that just throttling speeds, using net-neutrality regulation is enough to help here. The roads need to be better designed for this traffic, and then rules can be put in place that make it easier to travel on these informational roads.

Unfortunately, the cars have evolved faster than the roads. And this is the case with mobile devices – especially here in the US. We’ve got an infrastructure that was made for analog communications that’s now pushing mostly digital comm. This can’t work. Instead of enabling carriers, network holders, and even education and governments to keep the status-quo by enacting regulation, we need to be more upfront about fixing the data roads, so that better behaviors can then be encouraged.

Rita’s post the other day showed how she managed to find side roads and use an SUV to get around the issues that mitigate her from getting from one data/comm point to another. It shouldn’t take that much if the system, processes, etc. were designed right. And they were, just not for this age.

Heavy traffic is avoidable, if the rules are established and enforced at the right points. I hope that the current administration sees that, and pushes changes in the right manner, instead of backwards as it has usually been.