As a geek, engineer, early adopter of internet technologies, and an individual citizen, I agree with my buddies Robert X. Cringely and Mark Gibbs and their assessment the internet is a utility and should be managed as such (Yes and with you Jared ;-)).
However, as a capitalist and free-marketer, I have a hard time reconciling the notion that the Government should just take over privately deployed and owned assets without fairly compensating the TelCo’s and their shareholders for the investment they have made, and continue to make, in internet infrastructure.
Let alone the fact that the calculation of what is “fair” needs to be a) Risk adjusted for expected returns in comparable high risk investments, b) Reduced by any financial benefit received due to tax incentives and other government financial contributions, c) Increased for financial losses incurred by going into rural areas where there was no business justification for doing so, etc. etc. etc.
And even if we were able to calculate that without getting tied up in litigation for the next ten years, I just shake my head in disbelief that we are even contemplating using regulatory pricing mechanisms like we used to have prior to the deregulation of the Bell System. The notion of a planned economy went out along with the Old Soviet vision of “Commanding Heights” (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/commandingheights/).
This is a meaty policy issue that can affect the competitive and economic future of the US and should be driven by policy and technology wonks and other people who have the ability to think strategically about the long term impact of any policies deployed.
Unfortunately it is becoming a sound-bite-driven political issue from politicians like Ted Cruz and Al Franken who have no idea what they are talking about as idiocy and ignorance of basic technology spans both parties.