Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Net Neutrality is Essential to Progress

The U.S. telco's have had it good, collecting massive monthly payments from millions of Americans, while finding ways to convince their customers that they are getting lightning fast speeds. The truth is that, "The US is now 22nd in terms of downstream broadband speed, behind Latvia and the Czech Republic," according to John Borthwick in the article entitled, "Neutrality Or Bust."

Certainly the current tiered internet speed packages offered by telco's are over priced for the amount of bandwidth used by the average consumer. With the increase in the number of consumers using high bandwidth sites like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, telco's are kicking and screaming because people are actually starting to use what they have been paying for this whole time. Offering different speeds for different prices is totally fair, however charging different prices for parts of the internet is not fair. Splitting the internet into different brackets is absurd and as Borthwick stated, "An uneven experience across various platforms will fragment innovation and promote gatekeepers’ ability to tax applications." Net Neutrality will stop telco's from discriminating against small internet businesses based on their high bandwidth usage and whether the services offered create competition.

From Neutrality Or Bust:

"Now imagine that you take your iPad to the park and fire up the same application through a 3G or 4G wireless connection and all of a sudden the videos won’t work? Not that they are slow—they just wont work given the plan you are on."

The scariest part about the recent FCC ruling is that wireless providers are exempt from most of the new regulations passed. With the rapid growth in the wireless internet category, consumers shouldn't be gouged over using sites like YouTube so that wireless companies can continue their oligopoly fueled reign. Telco's already charge outrageous prices for basic TV packages that force consumers to pay for much more then they would ever be able or want to enjoy. Forcing a similar package model on internet service would put an end to the openness of the internet today.

Allowing telco's to pick and choose what bits are allowed to be transferred could heavily impact the freedom of speech found on the internet today. Verizon was already caught blocking pro-choice text messages sent on their network recently. There would only be more self-interest driven uses if filtering the internet became acceptable. The lack of competition in the telco industry presents serious doubts that telcos would handle their new powers fairly.

The S.F. Gate article entitled, "All Bits Are NOT Created Equal -- You "NET NEUTRALITY" Zealots Are Just Looking Out For Your Own Self-Interest," was outrageous on many levels. The analogy of shipping services like UPS to telco's is not accurate. UPS is generally responsible for the entire start to finish process of delivering packages, where the internet is much more complex and no single company delivers packets from start to finish. Currently, the internet only works rather smoothly because of the lack of gatekeepers. If there were checkpoints through the entire internet, there would certainly be more problems delivering and hosting content because of the new complexity.

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