No “Net Neutrality” For Me

I believe in theĀ  power of “the market.” I am in favor of letting businesses charge what they will for their services. I think consumers tend to vote with their pocketbook. And it seems apparent to me that competition is good for all of us.

All that said, there’s a lot of debate over the Federal Communication Commission’s support of “Net Neutrality.” And most of the discussion leads to an immediate tune-out by consumers. It is easier to care about the Olympics. Or the latest celebrity whose personal life is a slow motion train wreck. Or the weather. Or…(insert your news of note here).

That said, here’s a CNET piece describing THEIR take on net neutrality and why you should care. I emphasized CNET’s take as “THEIRS” because, while offering some of the most comprehensive coverage of the matter, I’ve found many of their articles to be at least a bit biased. That’s not wrong, and as an entity they are welcome to have and promote a certain perspective.

With that caveat, one quote of note from the above linked article, describing the impact of the recent court ruling about the FCC’s support of Net Neutrality:

…the ruling opens the door for broadband and backbone Internet providers to develop new lines of business, such as charging Internet content companies, like Netflix, Amazon, or Google, access fees to their networks. Companies like Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and others could offer priority access over their networks to ensure streaming services from a Netflix or Amazon don’t buffer when they hit network congestion…

My two cents: the companies like Verizon, AT&T, TWC, Comcast that built the infrastructure allowing for high speed internet service can do what they want with those cables and lines. I’d suggest that access to an ISP is not a basic human right. It is a commodity that cost the builders a lot of money. The builders are free to sell access for whatever prices the market will bear. If they wish to charge more for premium services and speeds they can do so.

Now, I am not in favor of price gouging – but neither am I in favor of offering non-discriminatory use of the internet “pipeline.” A significant amount of web traffic is movies, on Netflix in particular, and if Netflix (or Apple, Amazon, Google) can’t figure out how to deliver movies and simultaneously get along with the infrastructure providers at a price point that works for consumers then such services will ultimately fail. And something else will step in to meet the demand of online video. It is how a free market works.

Regardless of your perspective, or even if you don’t (yet) have one, this issue which WILL affect you and me in the coming years. Our access, our internet habits, and our budgets will be impacted. And that is why you should care.

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