Today’s blog is written by guest blogger, Thomas D. Taylor. He is the Co-Creator of the Midnight In Chicago initiative as well as the Author of “Geo-213: The Lost Expedition” and “Hemlock: The Collected Mysteries” as well as a number of other books. You can follow him on Facebook by LIKING his page HERE as well as follow him on Twitter by clicking HERE.
Savvy people will know that there has been a lot of discussion over the issue of Net Neutrality in the news lately. This is because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spent a good part of 2014 devising rules for how broadband Internet providers should operate their networks, and the rollout of these rules may occur as soon as February of this year.
Net Neutrality can be described as an idea where all Internet traffic should be treated equally. In other words, whereas there has been concrete evidence that some Internet providers have deliberately slowed traffic to some customers in the past, and that some may be doing so now, going forward this deliberate slow-down would not be allowed to happen.
On the surface, Net Neutrality sounds like a good thing.
Anytime communications are limited or impaired, freedom of speech may also be limited or impaired.
With the release of all kind of electronic gadgetry that can access the net, and with the amount of available bandwidth being expanding, expandable, yet at the same time finite, it has been argued that every customer should be apportioned the same amount of bandwidth and internet speed, meaning everyone gets high-speed when it is available, and everyone gets slow-speed when high-speed isn’t available. Fair is fair.
Proponents of Net Neutrality believe the solution to the problem is regulating Internet providers as though they were utilities. Detractors believe that such regulations would saddle Internet providers with the types of problems often seen with regular utilities, including skyrocketing internet rates and spotty service. Regulations, these detractors also say, would discourage innovation, and keep the net in a state of safe — and inexpensively operated — status quo.
It’s been reported by the Washington Post that “Eighty-one percent of Democrats and 85 percent of Republicans in the survey said they opposed fast lanes. The poll’s margin of error was 3.2 percentage points.” Click HERE for source.
The American Civil Liberties Union sees the issue of Net Neutrality as one of free speech, and is for the enactment of FCC regulations. Click HERE for information on the ACLU’s views on Net Neutrality.
Nevertheless, Republican lawmakers stand opposed to Net Neutrality.
There are a number of reasons, including — as already mentioned — the idea that classifying Internet providers as utilities will hamper the ability of these providers to perform optimally, and at reasonable costs.
But the second and perhaps most convincing argument against Net Neutrality is that consumers, when subjected to slowed speeds in the past, simply migrated to carriers that provided them with faster speeds, with the result being that the abandoned carriers were forced to stop limiting their speeds, or else forced to offer lower rates to entice customers back.
Further, the market and usage of devices which tap the Internet is on the increase, and as not only consumers, but corporations, become more dependent on the Internet to operate these devices, they will have less and less patience with stingy providers, or with providers that fail to increase their operating capacity. And while the economic power of the individual consumer, or even collectivized consumers are limited, the corporations which produce these Internet-using devices have the financial wherewithal not only to sway their purchasers to decent networks via coupons or other incentives, but they may even have the investment capital to create and operate their own Internet networks — and without breaking any anti-trust laws.
Were that latter possibility to become an eventuality, current poorly performing Internet providers would become obsolete.
Internet providers know all of this, which is why savvy ones should understand that their days of limiting access to the net — instead of growing infrastructure — are limited. Lawmakers should also know all of this, which is why the ones looking to pass Net Neutrality should recognize that by doing so, they risk forcing that which they supposedly stand against: Internet slowdowns, high service fees, and a limiting of free speech.
Thomas D. Taylor