Scott Wolpow of PublicCTO helps us understand Net Neutrality.
The Internet is no longer a “new” means of communicating. It has matured into a force that has changed the world. The original unwritten rules allowed any person access to any other computer on the Internet. You were limited only by your connection speed. This created a true democratic utopian environment. There were no limits to who could view a website and how often. In the brick and mortar world it was your location that mattered. The Internet is different; there are no locations, only domain names. Everyone has the access to the same population. This is called Net Neutrality.
At first people connected to the internet via small companies that offered dial-up connection to their servers, which would then connect to larger bandwidths access to the Internet. These companies were soon consolidated into companies like Earthlink and AOL. Today telephone companies and Cable companies offer high speed access to the Internet to most of the country.
Ten years ago the Internet was comprised of simple web pages. The websites of today are more complex. You can play games, make phone calls, and download your favorite movies and shows. You can get your music delivered by the song to many different devices. A cell phone can connect to the internet. All this consumes large amounts of the capacity of your bandwidth connection. Bandwidth cost money.
This great and equal access has allowed new companies like: Amazon, eBay, YouTube, Google, MySpace, Vonage and many others to become part of the new economy. It also has allowed any company to compete on the same level as the big companies. One of my businesses discountjewelry.com has the same access to the same customers as bluenile.com. This has created a truly level playing field. Many companies would not have existed if not for this fact.
The companies that now provide most broadband access feel it is unfair that they have to give equal access to their competitors. You may have X Phone Company DSL, but use Skype to make free phone calls. X Phone Company feels this is unfair. After all they want you to use their paid telephone service. These companies feel they should have the right to prioritize what you download, at what speeds and when you are able to do it. The feeling is that it is no different than a toll road. They charge more for trucks because they use more of the highway. There is a logic to that argument.
The website companies, who provide content, feel that is unfair. They will be relegated to second class status unless they pay premium prices for the better access. Consumers feel that they will lose their choice of what sites they can use. It will be like cable tv, where the provider decides what channels are most profitable to them.
The Cable and phone companies want to create a new regulatory body, run by them, that would determine what content gets to you first and at what speed. This could mean that a company could block your access to another company’s site if they compete.
Point of View Cable and Phone Companies: We have spent billions creating a broadband high speed access for our clients. It is our property. Other companies want to use our property to sell their wares. These companies are not paying for this. Why should we subsidies these ventures? If they want to sell their products we should be compensated.
Point of View Content Creators; The Cable and Phone companies already get paid from their subscribers. They determined the amount the market can bear and have priced accordingly. What difference does it make what type of data goes through the connection. The companies are free to charge by bandwidth. Setting priorities is censorship and restraint of trade. The consumer should dictate what they how they want to use their bandwidth.
The issue of Net Neutrality is very important and will affect our economy. It is important to learn all the details, form an opinion and let your representatives know your feelings and choices.
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