Net Neutrality

I’d like to take this post in my blog to talk about something that’s very important to me that I don’t think a lot of people understand, and because of that, don’t really have an opinion on it. That something is called Network Neutrality, often simply called Net Neutrality.

The idea behind Net Neutrality is that the owners of the networks over which all the data on the Internet goes, the telephone and cable companies, have one job and one job only, deliver the data, no matter what it may be. An ISP’s sole job is to deliver what the consumer wants from whatever content producers he wants at the absolute best speed it can manage. Both consumer (you and I) and content producer (think Google, eBay, etc.) pay them for this service. The network owners have zero say in what gets delivered. This is how things are now. This, essentially, is Net Neutrality.

The service providers (the telcos and Cable companies who own these networks; AT&T, Cingular, BellSouth, etc.) would like this to go away. Their aim is to create a “Tiered” internet, where providers who pay more get better service on the network. If they want higher speeds, they can pay to access that part of the network. If you can’t afford to pay that extra fee, you’re stuck with everyone else in the “slower” internet.

Think about how utterly insane and ridiculous that is. The Telcos would have you believe that consumers will now have faster access to higher quality services. I say how about you let US decide that, not you. Because frankly, I don’t think you can be trusted with that. Of course you’re going to give your own online services this higher-quality connection. Can we trust you to do the same for your competitors? You’d give them the absolute same best-quality connection?! Your direct competitors? You won’t slow it down just the littlest bit? There is no incentive for them to not do this.

Let’s take some hypothetical examples here. What if, say, Xanga can’t pay the fee to get this second tier of superior service? We’ll be stuck with slower speeds trying to access our blogs. Or maybe they can, but their service provider wants to release their own blogging service. You can bet Xanga won’t get the best speeds, but their little blog service certainly will. Here’s another eye-opener. Xanga could very well have no choice but to pass the costs of this second-tier service onto us: Translation: They move more options over to “Premium account only”, or what’s worse, make us pay to maintain our accounts, all because they need to do so in order to not be second-class citizens on the Internet. They could of course not pay this fee, but then we’ll be stuck at slower speeds trying to read each other’s sites.

The telcos will tell you of course, that no one’s speed will be reduced, the second-tier customers will just get faster speeds. Uh, sorry guys, but we’re not stupid enough to fall for that. There is only so much bandwidth out there on the Internet now, and more providers and consumers using that Internet makes “traffic jams” more frequent. There’s two solutions: Telcos can invest in more bandwidth to allow more traffic, or they can make content providers pay to have more bandwidth. Which means less bandwidth available for those who don’t pay. Which means more traffic jams and slower Internet. Internet bandwidth is a zero-sum game, guys. If you make someone go faster, someone else has to go slower. It’s really that simple.

What about small companies who want to put out the next big thing, be the next big Google or eBay? Well, unless they’ve got a crapload of startup money, they’ll be forced to put their idea on the lesser-tier Internet, resulting in slow speed and a slow acceptance of their new idea, while the Telcos preferred little companies enjoy all the lightning speed they want.

I haven’t talked with David about this in a while, so I don’t know if he’s still running Purplehoodie Productions, his web-design company. The company who owns the server his web pages are on will have two options if the Telcos have their way and this Tiered Internet gets made: Number One: Don’t pay the fee to get more bandwidth and be stuck on the slow internet. Meaning all of David’s clients will have slower-loading webpages, and the consumers of said pages will not be happy. Number Two: They decide to fork over the cost of being on the “high-tier” Internet. They in turn, pass this cost onto the people who utilize their servers. David in turn must pay more for his domains and allowed bandwidth. Maybe he won’t be able to afford that, and Purplehoodie Productions goes under, or at the very least, is not as profitable. David might have to raise the cost of his services, and the end result will be less business for him.

This is an entirely hypothetical situation, but it could be entirely real if this passes. Do something about it and don’t let this atrocity of legislation go through. Save the Internet and support Net Neutrality.

Go to http://www.savetheinternet.com to learn what you can do. They have options to email your congressman and show you who is supporting Net Neutrality and who isn’t. Sadly, it seems Kay Bailey Hutchinson is against Net Neutrality. Write her and educate her about how wrong she is. Our other Senator, John Cornyn, has not come out with a position on this. Show him what position he needs to take if he wants your votes.

Read more on this factsheet
http://www.freepress.net/docs/nn_fact_v_fiction_final.pdf

The internet does not need profit-driven companies regulating it. It needs the free decision of the consumers. Support Net Neutrality.

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