Bainbridge Island Community Network

Marina District
Marina District

Net Neutrality and the History of Bainbridge Island Community Network

"Then I asked them... Let's say you're good guys...and I sell you this community site (which represents the essence of Bainbridge Island in cyberspace) and you let me continue to create it. Then along comes Rupert Murdock* and buys you out? What happens to the virtual community of Bainbridge Island?"

To their credit, they gave me the only correct answer: "We don't know." -- Dave Henry

This is the story of how a large telecom tried to eliminate a small community online information resource. The significance of that effort portends the future of the internet and cuts to the heart of the issue of Net Neutrality.

The telecoms were beginning to develop very efficient mechanisms for mining our local economies by combining video and internet. These strategies would give cable companies a great marketing edge, which would ment big profits for telecom marketers/cable companies at the expense of local businesses. As a local community Internet presence, an independent Bainbridge Island Community Network was a fly in the ointment.


So, a meeting with Dave Henry (Bainbridge Island Community Network), management from Northland Cable, and a negotiating/implementation team from the ISP Channel/Softnet of Palo Alto (major players in the national/global telecom game). The ISP Channel suggesting that they buy the Community Network and move it to Palo Alto under their "Local" brand with the 40 or so other communities whose presence they already owned. Dave Henry would continue developing community content to make them appear 'local', but its real purpose was to make their online global marketers seem like legitimate members of our local business community. (In related efforts they successfully co-opted our naive city government, Chamber of Commerce and especially our downtown business association - Team Winslow).


"I didn't sell. I hadn't built this wonderful community resource only to have the global marketers use my creation to mine our local economy. Failing to buy me out, they would now have to eliminate me. I was in the way of a major profit center."

An early battle for the future and essence of Bainbridge Island (and all small communities) on the Internet had begun.

And it would be called "DISCOVER BAINBRIDGE"
(see Round 1 below - The Trojan Horse)

*If you are not familiar with Rupert Murdock's global media empire and the influence he has over the politics and destiny of nations the world over (with mechanisms like Fox News), you should take the time to watch the DVD "Out Foxed: Rupert Murdock's war on Journalism" a very good argument for not allowing the consolidation of media resources.

Further chapters are under construction:

Preparing for the Main Event

Round 1 - The ISP Channel/Softnet
and the Trojan Horse

The epic version of the greatest story never told.  (got to have a little fun otherwise it would all be too sad ...) Drier version will follow
(click to enlarge)


PDF version of the: ISP Channel - The Battle for Bainbridge.

Round 2 - We didn't learn from Round 1. (or did we?) Now we're dealing with AT&T/Comcast, and they know what happened in Round 1.
SO Where's...
- Waldo (John - reporter for local newspaper/Black Press at the time)
- Jay Inslee Local Congressman, resident of Bainbridge Island - Champion of Net Neutrality? Saw a presentation years before by Dave Henry on the need for establishing a "Public Utility of Information" on the local level across the nation before the big corporations move in. He took no action when we could have been pre-emptive on the Net Neutrality issue. Kitsap County could have been as a national model. (The sad thing is, a member of his staff at the time got the message and saw the value), but it didn't go any farther with Jay. We'll take a look at his lobbyist contribution list and whose board he sat on at this time in history.(With politicians it is always the lobbyists and the consultants who know so much more than the local people in the trenches dealing with real life.)
- City of Bainbridge Island (especially Dwight Sutton- mayor, Lin Nordbe - city manager and Merrill Robison - councilman - main pusher of the franchise agreement with AT&T on the City Council)
- Bainbridge Island Broadcasting (wonder who's on their board and in line for the franchise and communications tax money, and who owns their building and how much they pay for rent?)
- Our City's Paid Franchise Consultant (and his wife and who else knew his secret)
- Who are our great franchise negotiators with AT&T/Northland, (and their affiliations) in all this? They have to be telecom experts and yet be above reproach ethically, no conflics of interest, no benefits to gain, right?)
- Why did the City Attorney get all excited at the last council meeting just before passing the franchise agreement and call for an executive session?

I know:   Follow the money

"We have to hurry and pass this so AT&T can get a tax break" - City of Bainbridge Island
Official reason given by the City for fast-tracking the franchise agreement.

"The Internet has no relevance in the franchise agreements..." with Northland Cable/AT&T "soon to be Comcast". - A quote from our City's paid telecom consultant for the cable franchise agreements with Northland/AT&T/Comcast. (His answer to a question asked by David Henry at a City Council Meeting about where the details of the Internet fit in the cable franchise agreements - more on this one.)
His claim to fame: Retired FCC turned consultant. But it's his wife's professional connection, and which community leaders knew about his conflict of intrest, that tells the rest of the story.

What is Net Neutrality & why we need it.

Watch a very concise explanation of the Net Neutrality Issue (Youtube video) by the father of the World Wide WEB
Tim Berners-Lee (MIT)

Comcast just did us a big favor. They put together a demonstration for us on how they will control the flow of information even before Congress and the FCC give more control over medial consolidation and the Internet to the global telecom corporations    Comcast's Secret War on File-Sharing

EFF Releases Reports and Software to Spot Interference with Internet Traffic   Electronic Frontier Foundation

Here is a written description of the issues of Net Neutrality by the Open Internet Coalition:

"Open access is a basic principle of our Internet. The Internet, after all, was invented and built with public tax dollars. All Americans should have the right to use Internet software, sites, and services without the interference of the large telephone and cable companies. But AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and other giants want to change the rules that have made the Internet a success.

Think of the Internet as a superhighway for information where anyone Ė from Appleís iTunes to a garage band distributing songs on their own home page -- can gain access to the road. Both the big player and the new entrant can reach individuals, anywhere, on equal footing. But now, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast want to change the rules and put up toll booths on the Internet, despite the fact that all of us already pay hefty, monthly charges for our DSL, cable and fiber optic connections to the Internet.

If the phone and cable companies get their way, websites and online service providers who arenít able to afford these fees would be put in a slow lane. Large media companies who can pay the tax to use the fast lane would dominate what you can access. The less powerful voices would be lost. That would mean a lot less consumer choice and it would strangle individuals and small companies trying to get their businesses off the ground. The alternative is net neutrality. Simply, net neutrality guarantees that broadband networks cannot use their networks to give preferential fast lane access to any content provider, nor can they slow down content or services that are unable to pay. The Open Internet Coalition seeks to ensure that the transmission of internet traffic remains open, accessible and fast, and does not favor one particular brand or type of content over another.

We arenít seeking anything new or radical Ė net neutrality was the law of the land from the Internetís inception until 2005, when the cable and telephone companies successfully lobbied the Federal Communications Commission to change the rules. We want to preserve the best of the Internet: giving consumers greater choice at the lowest possible cost; ensuring that the Internetís economic engine keeps moving ahead; protecting innovators and small business; and advancing the founding principles of the Internet."

Save the Internet: Click here

Here are some current examples of how information is currently manipulated and withheld from us.

Here is how Community Internet works if run as a Public Service and what is happening in Washington DC

Want to know who really owns the various forms of information you get.

The Ma Bell breakup cost the rate payers of this nation billions over the years. Check out the AT & T History button at the bottom (of the above link). We were conned back then, just as we are being conned now. Congress and the FCC gave away the farm back then, just as they are doing it now. Are we just born stupid suckers or what? When is our government going to represent the interests of the people of this nation? As the history of Bainbridge Island shows it is the same on every level of government: local, state, federal.

Want to have a little fun with a serious issue. This little game is a graphic example of how much media Rupert Murdock owns in the United States. (If Rupert gets control of the net he can keep you from playing this game, think about it.)