Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Net Neutrality At Risk? Not Really.

"Boy, I can't wait for the first ISP to abandon net neutrality! I'm going to sign up with them ASAP!" Not exactly the responses you get from most people when they learn about net neutrality and the danger of losing one of our freedoms. Net neutrality is the principle that internet access should not be restricted in one form or another via ISPs or the government. According to "What is Net Neutrality?" (, "Companies want to set up a restrictive fast lane on the internet, but only for their partners and services. Only sites that pay them a huge fee would be allowed to use it." This would be a direct infringement on the current state of net neutrality, and is cause for some concern.

Net Neutrality is an extension of our system of beliefs in the physical world on many levels. For example, in the physical world, we support a free market economy (with some intervention). This intervention is very important, however. For example, anti-trust laws are in place in order to secure customers lower prices of goods, higher quality of the goods, etc. If ISPs were to collaborate and all institute a non-net neutrality policy at the same time, this would probably be a trust.

On the other hand, what if just a couple ISPs changed their policy? Franky, I'm not worried about this case. The main reason is that the vast majority of people support net neutrality! Here's a scenario: ISP Y decides net neutrality is for the birds and decides to try to make an extra profit by charging websites for increased access speeds (while degrading the speeds of non-paying websites). ISP Z keeps supporting net neutrality. What ISP do consumers choose? With so much net neutrality support (and net anti-neutrality hate), I don't think ISP Y would stand a chance in the (more or less) free market economy of the United States.

The United States and our infrastructure of government and beliefs just does not seem like the proper mix of nutrients to support the growth of non-net neutral ISPs. I'm not saying this might not happen in other parts of the world, but it seems highly unlikely to be coming to any of the 50 states anytime soon.


  1. Exactly. As long as there is more than one ISP I think we'll be safe. I know that I have changed phone companies and internet providers a number of times to get the best value for my money.

  2. A side effect of everyone switching providers would be the speeds of those connections getting slower, so it might actually be a choice between two evils if enough people switch.

  3. Good point Nicki. I hadn't thought of that.

  4. I disagree that the market will balance itself in favor of net neutrality, simply because ISP's are already fairly monopolistic. Creating an ISP requires a ton of resources, so we don't have many cool "underdog" ISP's springing up. It depends on your area, but many places essentially force you into a certain provider. Also, most people aren't really educated on this issue and might not understand that they're losing freedoms until it's too late.