Finishing Off the Startup?

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2006-08-06 Print this article Print

Tom McInerney's Guba is one of those companies that AT&T said is getting a "free ride."

Tom McInerneys Guba is one of those companies that AT&T said is getting a "free ride." Guba has deals with Sony and Warner Bros. to deliver movies to customers over the Internet and, as a result, demands a lot of bandwidth. Its companies such as his that AT&T would like to charge extra to serve.

At this juncture in the net neutrality debate, McInerney, co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco company, can only guess at the potential side effects of any changes. However, he doesnt like his guesses.

In fact, McInerney wonders if something more sinister might be afoot if AT&T or another provider were able to use its network to unfairly compete against Guba. "If AT&T launches a competing movie service and prices it lower than Guba," he said, "they could make pricing control viewership."

While the debate over net neutrality continues, users remain the forgotten stakeholders. Click here to read more. "Where it gets dangerous is when you have one pipe into the home— when either the cable or phone company can lock you into service terms that are long and start charging variable-use fees that have the effect of controlling what sites you go to," he said.

However, McInerney isnt pining for a return to the days of regulated telecommunications that some net neutrality proponents seem to be pushing. He said such control could also lead to trouble.

"A regulatory effort would be chilling," said McInerney. "I built our first server from parts that I bought on the kitchen floor." He said startups such as Guba can thrive only in an environment with minimal regulations. If a company started controlling what he can connect to on the Internet, the results could be serious, he said.

While McInerney doesnt want the regulation that some net neutrality advocates are pushing for, he wonders whether existing remedies from the likes of the Federal Communications Commission are enough to protect against predatory practices on the part of larger companies. "You only want the law to come into play when theres a problem," he said.

For other users views of net neutrality, read the following:
  • Teacher: Internet Is the Library
  • The Doctor on the Digital Tundra
  • Even Giants Like Siemens Worry
    Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

    He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

    Submit a Comment

    Loading Comments...
    Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

    Rocket Fuel