The Future Of Transportation Needs To Look More Like The Internet [telecom]

By Ellis Talton and Remington Tonar

Transportation infrastructure and the internet have a lot in common. Both are networks of pathways that ferry things from place to place. For transportation systems, those things are people and goods. For the internet, they're packets of data. Both have to handle multiple types of traffic across multiple mediums. For transportation, there are cars and roadways, planes and runways, trains and railways, boats and waterways. For the internet, there are bits of electromagnetic signals transmitted through fiber, cables and radio waves. Both are experiencing increasing rates of usage that threaten capacity. For transportation, much of that usage is due to growing freight demand from e-commerce. For the internet, it's largely due to growing video consumption. Most important, both serve a critical connective function and are vital to the social and economic welfare of the nation.

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Bill Horne
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Historically, the fate of the Western Union Telegraph Company mirrored that of passenger railroads. Both companies had a technologically obsolete service (telegrams, passengers) that they wanted to abandon but the government ordered them to continue at a loss. (Western Union basically wanted out of the traditional telegram business by the late 1960s as it was losing money; they wanted to focus on other modes.)

We do need some government regulation in monopolies or near- monopolies to protect the public. But it must be balanced-- excessive regulation, such as above, only serves to bankrupt companies and hurts service to the public.

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