Net Neutrality: Save the Internet

Written by commonsensejournal on May 5th, 2006

Besides hosting considerations, most web sites are able to be accessed at a fairly fast speed. A person can create a blog or web site and that can be accessed by people from around the world. That soon may change. Cable and phone companies are proposing changes to the way the Internet works, where they would charge money for faster access to web sites. So the big corporations’ web sites would load faster if they decided to pay this “protection money” to the telecom giants who currently have a virtual (and sometimes?very real) monopoly on the telephone and cable lines that the Internet runs through.? But citizens, groups, some politicans and even the guy who invented the Web have come out in support of protecting smaller web sites and Net Neutrality. PC World has a good article about the Net Neutrality debate:

Your favorite Web sites may be relegated to the Internet’s slow lane if the companies that run its backbone network have their way. Proposed services from telecommunications and cable companies would let ISPs and other Web businesses pay extra to receive preferential treatment for their data packets carrying everything from video to music to text over the Internet. Such packet prioritization would deliver a more responsive Web to those sites’ visitors–a valuable perk for high-bandwidth services like streaming video.

Rick Boucher points out in BusinessWeek Online in “Beware of a Two-Lane Internet” the problem and solution:

Some companies’ efforts may mean larger outfits with financial heft get faster-priority access on the Net. At stake is the very essence of the Web.

In the decade since Congress last rewrote the nation’s telecommunications laws, our open and accessible Internet has become a wellspring for innovation, producing the likes of Google (GOOG ), Yahoo (YHOO ), eBay (EBAY ), Amazon (AMZN ), and thousands of smaller successful e-commerce enterprises. Collectively, the services they sell at home and abroad, and the jobs they have created, are driving forces of the 21st-century economy.

Yet storm clouds are gathering, threatening to inhibit further progress. And as we prepare this year to refine our telecommunications rules once again, a measure to assure continued Internet openness and accessibility is now required.

Recently, executives at some telephone companies have indicated that their business model for providing broadband service will include not only charging customers for an Internet connection but also assessing a fee on Web sites to enable their customers to reach them more quickly.

Essentially, what these executives are proposing is the creation of a two-lane Internet where larger, more established Web sites with financial resources that pay for fast-lane access will be able to squeeze out smaller, emerging Web sites.

One must ask what will happen to the next Google or Yahoo struggling in a garage today, if new, innovative companies (that must often give away their services as they strive to become established) are stuck with inferior, slow-lane Internet access, simply because they lack the resources to pay the toll-booth keepers.

The solution…

…a firm principle of network neutrality is essential. With two simple new rules, and without hurting consumers or limiting innovation, telephone companies could launch an array of new services, including high-quality multichannel television.

Under the first requirement, broadband providers would be prohibited from blocking, interfering with, or impairing the ability of Internet users to access lawful content, applications, and services on the Internet. Under the second principle, the broadband operators would be prohibited from favoring themselves or their affiliates in the allocation, use, or quality of Internet access services.

Simply put, to foster the conditions that have contributed so much to our economy and our way of life, we need to avoid a two-lane Internet, controlled by incumbents manning toll booths. That’s the net on net neutrality.

Proponents of keeping the web free of bandwidth favoritism is not without its opponents. In a bit of doublespeak, Gerald Wesel, CEO of Ellacoya Networks, defended charging some web sites money for fast loading time:

The reality is that traffic must be managed in order to ensure fairness of service quality for all Internet users.

But cable and phone companies, like Verizon and Time Warner, already have a virtual monopoly on many markets. In many areas, there is only one cable provider. Opponents of Net Neutrality talk about the “free market” but a monopoly is not the free market. The phone and cable companies have a strangehold on the lines that connect the various computers. They should not abuse this to favor their own streaming videos or web sites that pay “protection money” so that their web sites load faster (kind of a like a broadband mob).

Some politicians have proposed a common sense idea to ban these companies from favoring one paying web site (a huge corporate web site) over others (smaller web sites that cannot pay protection fees). Although the vote was not completely partisan, mostly Republicans voted against saving the web about a month ago, although some Republicans have supported less regulatory ideas to combat favoring one content provider over itself or another.

I am for the free market and capitalism (with a safety net at the bottom for those that are poor, but not helping the people that are just lazy and refuse to work). But I am also for freedom of speech (besides the exceptions of copyright, actual malice, slander and the rare obsenity). A handful of companies should not be able to discriminate on the basis of paying protection money to them, just because they own the lines that connect the web. I feel the web is more important than even radio and television.

See also:

CNet’s Net Neutrality Showdown

Net neutrality fans lose on Capitol Hill

Without ‘Net neutrality,’ will consumers pay twice?

Should the Internet Play Favorites?

Don’t let phone giants ‘Ctrl’ what you get on the ‘Net?(USA Today)

When the Net Goes From Free to Fee?(Newsweek)

Do something!

Save the Internet

Common Cause’s?Hands of My Internet!?and Net Neutrality

Others blogging or writing about Net Neutrality:

Mia Culpa, Gici, DavensJournal, Rep. Ed Barkley, Jason Wong, Accomodatingly, Josh Silver, Washington Post (Internet Firms Want FCC to Enforce Net Neutrality), (The Coming Tug of War Over the Internet),

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