Net Neutrality: A look at its impending death

internetBy Savannah Marie
@savfmarie
May 26, 2014

The Internet was funded by the government, which is funded by We the Taxpayers, so that means it belongs to us – at least that’s what common sense would lead us to believe. Yet, we live in a world that, seemingly, belies common sense — a world where people like Karl Rove still have a podium and a captive audience, despite repeatedly proving himself an ignoramus.

The Internet is not free to use, and it appears as though it’s going to get more expensive if the FCC has its way. Earlier this month, by a 3-2 vote, the commission voted to move forward on recommendations that would allow Internet Service Providers – ISPs – to charge their partners more money for a “fast lane” of traffic.

To be fair, the FCC – led by Tom Wheeler, a man who got rich as a lobbyist for cable and telecom companies – voted on a watered down iteration of recommendations last week. Initially, the planned called for both a “fast lane” and a “slow lane,” meaning that companies that couldn’t afford to pay cable providers could have the speed with which their websites load throttled. So, the new recommendations include the allowance of a “fast lane,” but no mention of a slow one.

Doesn’t the very existence of a “fast lane” imply that there is a not-as-fast lane, a lane which many – due to comparisons to the fast lane – might indeed call a “slow lane?”

NetNeutralityNet Neutrality 101

Net neutrality is a simple idea: All traffic on the Internet should be treated the same. In other words, whether you’re going to watch something on Netflix or Crackle, the speed with which programs from both content providers load should be the same.

Proponents of ending net neutrality say that the free market works just fine without government intervention. Companies like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T have invested billions in the infrastructure that support the Internet as we know it, and those companies should be encouraged to continue investing in a faster Internet – America’s Internet speeds are only the eighth fastest in the world. If a company like Netflix is hogging all of the bandwidth an ISP has to offer, why shouldn’t that company pay more?

Some of those sentiments make some sense, but if someone wants to start a company to compete against Netflix, how will that person figure out how to get enough money to deliver content through the “fast lane” as well? After all, why would anyone want to watch something streamed in low definition and buffering when there’s crystal-clear, super high definition streaming service available? In other words, killing net neutrality will kill innovation as well, as new companies won’t be able to compete against those that are already entrenched and powerful.

So, say Netflix decides to pony up the coin and get access to that utopian fast lane. Good for them, right? Surely, they will just eat those costs and not pass them on to the consumer, correct?

Unfortunately, we know that won’t be the case, as reports have already come out that Netflix is planning to boost its prices. When was the last time a huge conglomerate stomached costs and didn’t kick them down to their customers anyway?

That’s not all: Meet usage-based billing. David Cohen, executive vice president for Comcast, recently said that his company will likely institute usage-based billing in the near future. That means customers will be allotted a certain threshold of data to consume each month and will have to pay more when they cross that threshold.

You would think that as technology evolves and becomes cheaper, the price of delivering cable services would go down, but the perpetual rise in cable bills greatly outpaces inflation. Clearly, these cable juggernauts need more money from a rapidly disappearing middle class, yes? I could be wrong, but I doubt it. Come on, Cable Execs: Show me the proprietary information you’ve recently put together with your mapping software. Show me how you could possibly need more money.

Unfortunately, not only will we be paying our monthly Internet bills – for the privilege to connect to the Internet – and for the speed with which we connect, we’ll now have to pay for how much data we consume as well as endure price hikes from providers of content delivered down the fast lane.

It’s great to be an American, right?

The View from DC

During the elections, Barack Obama said net neutrality was greatly important to him. Does anybody care that Jay Carney offered ambiguous responses to reporters’ questions when pressed on the issue?

Killing net neutrality offers no tangible benefits to consumers, the very people that the FCC are charged with protecting. Allowing cable companies to use a resource that was initially publicly funded to make other industry juggernauts pay hefty fees to enjoy fast speeds—only to kick those fees down to the consumers who are already pick-pocketed every time they open their wallets—is evil, deplorable and downright un-American.

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Posted by on May 26, 2014. Filed under National Politics,Recent News,Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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