Telegraph and Internet: Dawns of New Eras
Both the telegraph and internet signaled incredibly exciting new eras in information speed. The US government’s general lack of action in the two services save for regulation has made for a rather open market, and has created the problems with net neutrality that we now face. When the telegraph was developing in the early 1800s, the US Congress was faced with a mode of communication with unheard of rapidity. In 1843, Congress appropriated $43,000 towards experiments with telegraph technology. This would be the extent of any significant interest by the US Government. Clearly, they did not understand the magnitude of what was in front of them, and yet the telegraph was used by Congress to send Nevada’s state constitution to President Lincoln for his signature, an action which strengthened his support in Congress.
The US government took a similar approach to internet that it did to telegraph, with little interest in funding or controlling the service. This has led to a very open market, with only a handful of regulations imposed by the government. One sticking point has been that of net neutrality, but the recent events in court with Google and Verizon have thrown this area into choas as well.
Had the government imposed some kind of greater control, we may have seen better results in the interests of net neutrality. However, had the government stepped in, a host of other problems could have occurred, services could have become slower and mediocre, and there would have been no market competition. I think that they best course for the future of government regulation is one which regulates in law only, and refuses deals for the cessation of net neutrality.