Net Neutrality – Removes Consumer Empowerment
Many readers of this blog know that I am against net neutrality. Many also know that I am pro-consumer and when there is an argument between consumers and corporations I will side with the consumer. So how can I be a consumer advocate and be anti net neutrality?
(Web Host Blog) Many readers of this blog know that I am against net neutrality. Many also know that I am pro-consumer and when there is an argument between consumers and corporations I will side with the consumer. So how can I be a consumer advocate and be anti net neutrality? Seems mind-boggling doesn’t? It may, but not if you look at the consequences in proportion to the supposed gains.
There is No Shelter Here
First off, there has never been a problem with the internet not being neutral. When I say this the first two statements that come to mind is Comcast slowing down p2p transfers and the second being the Canadian company Telus and its problem with the Telecommunications Workers Union (TWU). Now everyone thinks that net neutrality will solve the Comcast throttling issue… it won’t. One of the clauses the FCC has been championing is to ensure consumers can connect to their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network. Unfortunately for the consumer, p2p services can, and in many cases, greatly harm the integrity of a network especially in rural zones. If it can be proven to ruin the network then it can be throttled. The Telus issue is another matter. During a labor strike of the TWU a site posted pictures of those employees who crossed the picket line and inflammatory comments were made to include a variety of death threats. Telus banned the site to protect the employees that it had threatened with beatings and death. After a bit of arguing and a little grand standing, the owners of the site and Telus came to an agreement, the pictures were removed and Telus unblocked the site.
The problem with net neutrality is that it assumes that the Internet is in trouble and that there is not enough regulation in place to protect consumers, which is false. As many have stated, net neutrality is a solution without a problem. And to solve those problems we already have a number of solutions: class action lawsuits, boycotting, competitive markets, etc.
The consequences of net neutrality are very much real and are a danger to many consumers. Removing tiered Internet access removes a major portion of income for an ISP. That income is normally spent on infrastructure, but if net neutrality is put in place the infrastructure will decrease. Essentially the ultra fast broadband packages subsidize the lowest tiers as well as allow for network expansion. With out it, those who do not have the higher end infrastructure, such as rural communities, will remain with the lower network pipelines.
As a for instance, I live out in the middle of nowhere, very small rural community, but I needed extreme broadband so I could work at home on the weekends. I paid a huge setup fee to get a good sized line as well as a large monthly fee for about a year. However, once residents of the town found out they now have access to the faster speeds they began to pay for it and after two years the overall monthly price went down, in fact I am paying now about 60% of what I was paying two years ago. With net neutrality, sure I wouldn’t have been hosed for a year (plus a wicked setup fee), but the ISP would not have made high speed Internet an option here and today we’d all be on the lowest speed that can be called “broadband.”
Net neutrality calls for all networks to be equal so they won’t fragment the Internet to several network microcosms. Which is all well and good, but if it is truly enforced than no network can advance through better research until all ISP networks advance. Therefore if company A invested $10 million to increase the efficiency of the network it could not implement it until companies B, C, all the way to ZZZ could produce it on their own networks. The net neutralities bills do not offer valid definitions of what makes networks different and because of this it will plateau innovation simply because one company doesn’t want to shell out the research dollars if it needs to ensure that all its competition have the technology before it can be implemented.
The very last problem I have with net neutrality, and by far the most important for me, is it removes consumer empowerment and places it with the government. One thing I have noticed is that people nowadays believe that the corporations control the economy when it is in fact the consumer who has control.
A very intelligent man understood this principle and in 1955 he used this capitalistic consumer principle to ensure public scrutiny on a major social injustice. The man was the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and he used boycotting to push social change. Companies must conform to what consumers want. If a company sells broadband at $200 a month and no one buys it they will either remove that service or they will reduce the price until it is purchased. If a company prevents access to the a site or service, they will continue to do so until the consumer decides not to buy their services. The surest way to have the fair pricing on goods is for consumers to understand their rights and to enforce these rights on the company. This principle is like a surgeon’s scalpel allowing consumers in a given location to fine tune the offerings of the local companies. When governments step in they cannot fine tune services since it would not be fair on a national level. They cannot say, well ISPs in Nevada can offer their rural customers higher tier broadband for less than the rest of the companies in the nation because they have the infrastructure for it. Instead federal governments have to use blanket statements in a one sized fits all fashion and hope that they don’t screw a large portion of the population. Now some might say well some places have ISP monopolies and this is true. Although in my population 800 town I have three ISP providers I will not assume that their is competition enough in every area for consumers to be choosey and that is where government should step in. We have rules on the books against monopolies and it is that area which government should be spending their time on.
About David Dunlap
Over the past ten years David has been a prolific author of hundreds of blogs, commentaries and reviews found here on WebHostBlog.com, as well as WebHostMagazine.com and other sites around the Internet. David manages the daily operations at both WebHostBlog and Web Host Magazine & Buyer's Guide, and as the head editor, David uses his unique analytical skills to ensure that both sites maintain their integrity and tough, but fair minded, reputations. Prior to his active career analyzing the Web Host industry, David specialized in networking and communications for the U.S. government. David's expertise in traditional and search engine marketing has helped boost companies both inside and outside of the Web Host industry.