British billionaire Richard Branson needs to call one of his boys out to the woodshed.
Over the weekend, Branson's top man at Virgin Media, Neil Berkett, stated his plans to undermine the basic freedoms upon which the Internet was built.
In an interview with the British trades Berkett called Net Neutrality "bollocks" and let slip his intention to turn Virgin's Broadband service -- which boasts 3.5 million customers in the UK -- into cable TV, where video providers have to pay through the nose to get through Virgin's pipes.
Sound familiar? It was less than three years ago when AT&T's top dog lobbed the telcos' first major volley in their battle against an open Internet. The grassroots firestorm that erupted in the aftermath of Ed Whitacre's comments had many in AT&T's PR department wishing their boss had spent the day clearing brush back at his Texas ranch instead of hatching his masterplan before the media.
Let's compare:Ed Whitacre, Former CEO of AT&T
Neil Berkett, CEO of Virgin Media
To BusinessWeek: "Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?"
Separated at Birth?
Berkett told Royal Television Society Magazine, "this net neutrality thing is a load of bollocks." He claimed that any video content provider that refused to pay Virgin a premium for faster access would have to get stuck in "bus lanes," having their content delivered to end users at much slower speeds than that of rich content providers.
|Berkett in Song|
Berkett's arrogant comments are eerily similar to those of his long-lost twin in San Antonio. And they have already sparked a reaction among the netroots.
Check out OsoTrue's musical YouTube response, in which he croons to Berkett:
Stop infringing on my Net Neutrality,
It's the way our generation speaks internationally.
Cancel my service and bid Virgin farewell,
and please tell Berkett that he can go to hell.
"We have heard the voices of many speaking out against your actions. You have opened the door to a domino effect that will destroy the very foundation of all we have created," says a voice from outer space. "You have opened Pandora's Box and must now face your demons."
Funny. And Sad.