Net Neutrality and You

If you don't follow technology happenings, you might have missed some proposed FCC filings around net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, without discrimination as to its source, destination, or content. - Derek Kessler, Androidcentral.com

In essence, the FCC through its appointed leader Tom Wheeler (a former and probably future lobbyist for the Cable Industry) wants to have companies pay extra to make sure their internet traffic gets priority speed.  The FCC will decide on a case by case basis how much this cost should be.  By creating a "fast lane", there has to now be a "slow lane".  Guess which lane your internet traffic will be traveling.

The FCC is stating that the only way to move forward is for the companies that provide internet access (ISP's like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, etc) is to charge more to any company that feels their service deserves priority.  Understand something here that seems to be lost in this discussion.  Every customer pays to get internet access.  I pay for an internet connection with my local ISP, as do all of you.  Every business also pays to have internet access from their locations.  The larger the company the more lines they need, but they all pay for their service.  Now the FCC says that ISP's can charge more to make sure the business in the HOV lane instead of the bumper to bumper traffic at rush hour.

This extra fee doesn't get you or the company faster internet service in your home or business.  It only makes sure that the data is transmitted ahead of other data.  Video for instance might get moved to the front of the line instead of your newest game software or that VOIP call you are making.  Think about that for a minute.  When you begin ranking what gets moved to the head of the line you are necessarily ranking some things lower.

Now what happens when Comcast goes to Netflix and says they need even more money.  Yes we know you already paid a certain amount to make sure your videos would be at the top of the list, but another company has come along and purchased that spot so if you want to move back to the first position you will have to cough up some additional money.  Seems to be an unending "protection" racket sanctioned by the FCC.

I can only see one winner in this type of scenario and it isn't the customer.  I am certain every ISP is in favor of this new set of rules.  Every small business or startup which has hopes of making it big will find that to be nearly impossible going forward.  Name all of the top internet companies we have today, Facebook, Google, even Apple might not exist today or most certainly wouldn't be the companies they are today.

Allowing all traffic on the internet to be equal as far as the ISP is concerned is the only way to maintain growth.  If the FCC wants rules such as these, then the only way to make this palatable for consumers is to allow more companies to enter the ISP game.   The consolidation currently underway between Comcast and Time Warner Cable will not make this better since the new combined company will have 56% of all of the internet customers in the US.

Political Dogma is in favor of a capitalist economy.  Every company has the right to make as much money as they can and has every right to charge what they want for their product.  That only works when there is competition though.  Most consumers in this country have one or two ISP providers (maybe one DSL and one Cable).   Hardly the same thing as competition.  Comcast will tell you that they laid the copper lines to each home.  If this was truly the case then I would be the last to stand in their way for charging what they like.  Unfortunately, Comcast (and their predecessors) were given tax breaks to provide service, preferential exclusivity for guaranteed customers and the ability to set their rates on a service by service area.  Have you ever wondered why your cable bill (for the same channels) is more or less than your neighbors (even across the street)?  Thank your local government for that negotiated price.

If the playing field had been equal and the Comcast's of the world had completely funded their own growth then they might have the right to charge what they want when they want.  Since that didn't happen, it is time to open up those copper and fiber lines to anyone and everyone who can make a business go of it.  Tell the FCC you don't like their rules.  Tell them and the FTC you oppose the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable since it will only hurt you, as the consumer.

We have seen that big government is about controlling the consumer not helping them, but maybe in this case there will be enough consumer outrage to change those odds.