Various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are pushing to take control of the internet traffic, and manipulate it as they see fit.
Since ISPs are the last segment on various hops information and data takes, from its origination, before getting to the end customer (you), the ISPs want to control how fast they deliver the information to you, depending on information's origin and information type.
According to some reports, video and other streaming services, like the ones offered by NetFlix, Amazon and Youtube, consume a third of total available internet bandwidth. This fluctuates depending on time of the day (more streaming traffic during evenings), slowing down other users not streaming videos etc. There have been some news that an ISP took efforts to slow down video streaming, causing 'buffering' errors when the end users were trying to watch online videos. This manipulation by ISP created a debate, whether ISPs have the right to create special fast lanes or slow lanes on the information highway.
While I have my opinions, I can see both sides of the argument. Let’s use some analogies to discuss this argument.
- One example that comes to mind is E-ZPass (those electronic devices installed in our cars, that allow us to go through faster lanes on a highway). I recall when E-ZPass was first rolled out, drivers paid less to go thru toll lanes with E-ZPass. Drivers saved money as well as the toll collectors, as they needed to deploy less personnel to collect those tolls. That seemed to be a win-win scenario, which also laid the ground work for a fast adoption of the E-ZPass technology. Then the toll collectors got smart. They started charging the same toll, whether you paid cash or whether use you used E-ZPass. Drivers still continued using these devices as they were hooked on the convenience factor. Is there some parallel between E-ZPass and Net Neutrality?
- Another example I can think of is equivalent of “Fast Pass” used in Amusement Parks like Six Flags and Disney’s attractions in Florida. These parks offer regular tickets, where customers have to stand in long lines before entering an attraction. They also offer, for an additional cost, “Fast Pass”. These are frequently more than the actual price of the admission to the park. There are customers for both – customers who buy regular priced tickets and choose to stand in long lines, as well as “Fast Pass” customers who are willing to pay extra, for the convenience of standing in much shorter lines, thereby improving their experience of the “day at the park”. Is there some parallel between Fast-Pass and Net Neutrality?
One difference I can see between above examples and Net Neutrality is that Internet was founded and promoted “initially” by US Government, whereas above examples involve “initial” services from the private sector. While private sector has certain amount of freedom on how it charges its customers, and “menu” of services it chooses to offer its customers, public sector domain is frequently bound by laws. However, while the internet may have been a gift from the public sector, it would be an understatement to say that the private sector commercial enterprises dictate the functioning of the internet as it exists today.
A couple of related comments below from Wikipedia
- “Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model in order to control the pipeline and thereby remove competition, create artificial scarcity, and oblige subscribers to buy their otherwise uncompetitive services”
- “Opponents of net neutrality claim that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance. Despite this claim, there has been a single case where an Internet service provider, Comcast, intentionally slowed peer-to-peer (P2P) communications. Still, other companies have begun to use deep packet inspection to discriminate against P2P, FTP, and online games, instituting a cell-phone style billing system of overages, free-to-telecom "value added" services, and bundling”
While I will restrict my opinions on the issue itself, I feel confident to say that “Attorneys from commercial enterprises will keep fighting this issue until they win. There is too much money at stake. Net neutrality will be a thing of the past. I give it three years.”
What do you think?