Pulver and the New America

Jeff Pulver, the closest thing VoIP has to a founding father, took a good long look at the US election results from Tuesday and concluded that, on balance, the country’s political change of course is potentially good news for internet and communications innovators.

Pulver’s optimism is qualified, though, in that he does not expect Democrats, the party which, today, officially gained control of both houses when Congress reconvenes in January, “will be any less paternalistic than their Republican corollaries” on issues such as emergency calling services, government phone surveillance, indecency statutes and internet regulation.

But the new national political reality, Pulver predicts, may:

  • Shift the debate over “net-neutrality” more in the favor of internet innovators and away from the carriers;
  • Create a counterbalance to the RBOC-friendly Kevin Martin-chaired FCC;
  • Potentially slow down the competition-stifling mega-merger between AT&T and Bell South;
  • Probably make Rep. Ed Markey (D.-MA), who Pulver says is “instrumental . . . in holding the line and defending the Internet and communications innovators and enthusiasts”, chair of the House Telecom and Internet Subcommittee.

In fitting irony, Pulver notes how VoIP was extensively used in turning out voters to defeat Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R.-MN), who has proposed new access charges and stifling rules on VoIP usage.

Pulver admits he has paid much less attention to the needs of internet communications on the political front, partly because he “had given up on America and the prospect that it would develop a regulatory framework that might enable Internet entrepreneurs.”

Now he’s gearing up for new challenges in a more promising environment and stresses that, ultimately, the responsibility is in the hands of “the emerging entrepreneurs, innovators, and potential thought-leaders.”

“I know most of us are pretty green in political and lobbying circles,” writes Pulver, “but as Congress, regulators, and governments around the globe place their critical gaze on us as we revolutionize the ways in which the Internet is used to deliver communications and entertainment, we had better start to care and engage and be proactive with government.”

How very true.

The AT&Ts and Verizons of the world have lots of political dough to sprinkle about, lots of K Street suits on the payroll to help them get their way, and many politicians still to willing to do their bidding, no questions asked.

But, if there is anything to be learned from this past election its that it’s still possible for those with little money but great ideas to make themselves heard.

Wednesday morning was a bright new day for the moribund Democratic Party in America. And it’s a bright new day for innovation and entrepeneurship in the internet communcations space.

Now we have to take advantage of it. It’s good to see Pulver energized again. I am.


  1. marcelo says:

    Via Irwin Lazar’s excellent “Real Time” blog, I landed on a well-researched and well-worth reading Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache piece, “What the Democrats’ win means for tech,” on CNet. McCullagh and Broache elaborate in some detail on some of the points Pulver raised, and add more of their own. Most interesting is how soon-to-be House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “innovation agenda” will come to play.

    A week ago I would have argued that the US would never catch up with Japan and South Korea in broadband internet access and communications. Now I’m more hopeful.