Stand up for net neutrality

Neocities has decided to do something about Net Neutrality–shunt the FCC into the slow lane, and post the code for doing it so the rest of us who run web sites can do it too. The original was written for Nginx; I need to give serious thought to implementing the Apache version.

Net neutrality has nothing to do with the political bent of the content–the people you may hear talking about it on the radio are wrong, which is why they’re yakking on the radio and aren’t working at ISPs or IT departments–and everything to do about raising prices. What we’re seeing now is telecommunications companies, who are already ultra-profitable, gouging companies like Netflix. And Netflix is doing exactly what a company that suddenly has to pay new taxes would do–raising prices.

The difference is that it’s old-line companies doing the taxing in this case rather than a government. That’s all.

The other objection I hear is that lots of innovation happened on the Internet without regulation, so why regulate now? The difference is that the environment in the late 1990s, when the seeds of all of this were planted and started to sprout, was very different. Back then we had hundreds of ISPs, all of whom participated in building out what we have now. None of them wanted to charge both subscribers and content providers, and none of them could have anyway. If Earthlink had tried to shake down Ebay and Amazon and make them slow, people would have switched to someone else–one of any number of regional providers, or equivalent services run by companies like IBM and the old AT&T (prior to its re-merger with Southwestern Bell). Today, many people live in areas only serviced by one broadband provider. Most people have two, but that’s not like the old days.

If I could have anything, I’d like more competition. I’d love it if the average U.S. citizen had a choice of a dozen or so broadband providers. Then we could have a truly free market. Instead, we have duopolies, a situation much like the situation with electricity and natural gas in most municipalities, and broadband providers face far less regulation than power companies do, even though as they grow in importance.

2 thoughts on “Stand up for net neutrality

  • May 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm
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    Just a point of clarification: What happened last week is not net neutrality. It’s more like putting a sticker that says “red” on a green car and calling it a red car.

  • May 18, 2014 at 11:04 pm
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    Before I add my one cent worth let me note I once worked for AT&T.
    One of the reasons so many isps went under is simple, like it or not, the gateway to the internet itself is held by only a few folks almost entirely the big name telcos. One of my dialup isps told me they simply could no longer offer access at a reasonable price, AT&T wanted to much for their access or to provide pops!

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