net neutrality

October 15, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

This web is mine man
This web is yours man
We like to surf it
Whenever we can
So just remember
To keep it wild and free
Preserve our Net Neutrality

I’ve stayed out of this debate, mainly because it has been largely ill-defined and characterized by wild assertions, emotional counter-claims etc. However, recently, the FCC’s Chair Julius Genachowski started firming up the positions, and the battle between government and industry for the connected future officially began. I think I’ll still stay out for a while longer… but I do want to table a few things.

I am not even sure it is about government and ‘the industry’. That is too simplistic a headline. And who is ‘the industry’? They’re almost as mysterious as the oft cited ‘they’. Is this not really about money for traffic i.e. who pays for the bandwidth, who uses the bandwidth and who regulates it?

All of this activity costs money. So, once again, it’s about the business model for the ‘media’ industry…

Can someone explain to me why a service provider should continually invest in infrastructure to provide connectivity for traffic capacity to subsidize businesses that leverage that connection to make money…? Surely there has to be equity in pricing and usage for both users and value added content providers? And surely there has to be investment in infrastructure to enhance that pricing and usage for new applications?

So how do ‘we’, as powerless outside observers, reconcile the two?

The four principles that serve as guidelines to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the Public Internet, commonly referred to as, Net Neutrality are:

  1. Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice
  2. Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement
  3. Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network
  4. Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

As a consumer, they sound pretty good. But this is all about consumers.

I am a consumer, but I also understand the need for businesses to have margins and incentive to invest. Ultimately that benefits me as well. Perhaps we all need to overcome skepticism of government regulation per the Wall Street Journal: “Government’s role here, properly understood, is not to tell Comcast how to manage its network. Rather, it is to make sure consumers have alternatives to Comcast if they are unhappy with their Internet service.”

Clearly there are more dimensions to this debate, in politics, in social and economic impacts and in technological implications. Perhaps we should learn how other countries have faced this dilemma? After all, aren’t we supposed to be globally connected?

And why do other countries have better bandwidth for cheaper prices than we have here in the US? Web Survey Finds Speed Is Quickest Overseas Is competition for net service as useful as having 42 brands of cornflakes in the cereal aisle, knowing full well that they are manufactured by only a handful of companies?

Maybe I’m still not looking at this in the right way…

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

Entry filed under: Media. Tags: , , , .

significance of social media what’s in a name? clouds

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October 2009

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