Internet diversity & cut cables

Following on to my previous post that multiple broadband strategies are better than a single one, we’ve been hearing quite a bit about cut cables in the Middle East and India. While not perfectly analagous to our domestic infrastructure, these events point out a fundamental quality of the Internet: diversity.

While it’s easy to suppose that a “national broadband strategy” is desirable, in fact it is likely to make the Internet less diverse in terms of infrastructure. If such a strategy allows Congress and the FCC to define the rules by which networks are built — effectively picking winners and losers — we are likely to end up with fewer providers and fewer technologies in play, and thus less ability to route around damage.

Have a look at our military procurement process, or agricultural subsidies. Tim Lee reminds us of the cartelization of railroads in a previous century. Each of these examples put the power of an entire industry in the hands of a politically-connected few, via well-intended “national strategies”.

The Internet, by design, is about diversity and redundancy at a deep level. Seems to me the best way to maximize the Internet’s potential is to maximize these characteristics.