A letter to American Cable Assoc. president Matt Polka

May 1, 2009

Matt Polka, President
American Cable Association
One Parkway Center, Suite 212
Pittsburg PA 15220

Dear Matt:

Network neutrality is an issue that I am passionate about both as a broadband operator and a ‘net’ user.  The Internet gained immense popularity as a platform for free speech that was accessible to any person.  The relatively inexpensive cost to post one’s message forced a major shift in media control, allowing upstarts to be on equal footing with media giants in the then new electronic landscape.  The Internet caused innovation, allowed small businesses to compete with very large ones and ultimately kept many small cable operators from falling into bankruptcy in a time when large MSO’s and programmers were eating into video profits.

Today there is a serious threat to the very structure of the Internet that made it so successful.  ISP’s around the nation are clamoring for more control over their pipes, claiming the need for more control over the traffic that passes over their networks.  However this control, if not defined properly could lead to the downfall of the independent operator.

ESPN 360 is a perfect example of how large media stands to take control of the Internet from end-to-end If network neutrality is not embraced.  ESPN’s model is to charge ISPs a fee for each and all subscribers, for access to its content.  ESPN is the first of what will be many,  to demand payment from ISP’s for access to their content.  Imagine if Google began demanding payment from ISPs for subscribers’ searches.  Or the reverse: Cox started charging small Web sites like americancable.org in order to be accessible to its subscribers.

It behooves small [cable] operators to support network neutrality for their own survival.  I imagine that few ACA members are large enough to be in the position to demand payment from a large media outlet for access to its subscribers and will therefore be likely to be asked  to pay for access to corporate media’s content.  Small operators are at a tremendous disadvantage in a non-neutral environment.  I urge the ACA to openly support network neutrality on its Washington agenda.  Please see my attached article from MultiChannel News.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Levi C. Maaia
Vice President, Full Channel