Net Neutrility: Why go there?

Why get the government involved?   Why legislate the Internet with Net Neutrality?

The impetus here was provided by a bit of tampering with the market by the ISP’s in order to undercut those like Vonage and Netflix (among others), who have been in that market all along because more people are consuming their services, causing more bandwidth to be used.

By forcing them to pay more while beginning to offer the same services companies like Vonage have been offering for years, ISPs hope to cut into those markets by getting their “cut”. Sound familiar? “You, you’re on my road, and you ain’t bein normal like those other guys, you’re making a good profit. Me, I think you should give me a cut of that deal you got going there or I should just ban you from my road here.” (yes, a bit corny, but you get the point)

Essentially, ISP’s want to have their cake and eat it too. They want to offer the consumer ostensively “Unlimited” Internet access while in fact limiting it behind the scenes. Not many consumers like the idea of only being allowed selective access to the internet. And none of the ISP’s want to be seen as publicly intruding upon your use of the Internet, but many ISP’s already do this now behind the scenes (Cableone for instance). When I watch an HD Netflix movie or download a large file, Cableone targets my node and locks down my bandwidth the next time I use it; essentially slapping my hand by throttling my bandwidth. When caught at this, they will remove your “throttling” temporarily, but it will come back again automatically.

This whole situation has many other ramifications but essentially it stems from the ISP’s wish to force successful Internet application companies to give them a cut of their profits simply because they (the ISP) grant their users access to it. Isn’t that kind of like charging riders for shuttle service to the farmers market and then trying to charge the market too? Without the Market there is no need for the shuttle service to begin with!

In truth, the situation is more like an airline selling you a seat, but if you’re larger than “average” they force you to buy two seats because you are taking up more room and they would rather not force someone to suffer through a flight next to your with only ¾ of a seat to themselves. In this case, however, they want to charge a fee to every restaurant you’ve ever eaten at for selling you the food that got you that big. Really? You’re going to try to get a few extra bucks out of McDonalds because I gobbled too many of their fries and blame them for my extra flabbiness getting on your flight? Seriously? Sound ridiculous to any of you?

It’s exactly what your ISP’s are doing now…

If they would simply be honest and open with their consumers, offer heavy users a higher “priority” of Internet access or some other such arrangement that is open and honest, this wouldn’t be an issue. But they don’t want to have to be the bad guy and charge the user, who is, in fact, the one making all of the decisions that result in heavy usage. No, they want to be able to hit the users with back-door fees that can be blamed on somebody else by charging the providers of services like Netflix and Vonage forcing them to be the bad guy by having to charge their customers more. If you offer unlimited internet access, how are you then going to whine about somebody offering a service that becomes so popular that every uses it? Is it unlimited only as long as nobody stands to make a good profit from the internet usage other than you? Talk about hubris! It’s not Netflix fault anyway, it’s the consumer doing that.

Hey ISPs! News flash!! It’s not Netflix sucking the life out of your bandwidth, it’s your own customers making that choice to use those services because they’re cool and fun. You now find yourself in a place where your customers are sucking your backbone pipes dry and you’re desperate to find someone else to pony up and bail you out because you oversold your ability to deliver unlimited Internet. Who’s the patsy on the block? Let’s blame Netflix (Yes I’m using Netflix as an example here but they’re not alone) and make him sound all greedy for providing the evil video services.

It’s all a vicious shell game that the government has stuck its hands into. And of course, it has done so with its usual heavy-handedness, getting over-involved. There are already plenty of laws on the books regarding unfair business practices and such that the net neutrality law really wasn’t necessary.

If Government would just get out of the way, Cableone and the like would go ahead and make the mistake of choking off their customers use of the internet, and more enterprising companies like Clear or others will step in and give the consumers what they want.

There is always an ebb and flow in the market. Cableone will choke the consumer, then Qwest will step in and offer freedom, then Qwest will bog you down with crappy customer service and Clear will step up with seemingly limitless, but somewhat laggy Internet service, undercutting both of the others, and then either Qwest or Cableone will wake up once their bottom line starts falling through the… what else, bottom; and make changes that make the consumer happy again and off on the new merry-go-round we go once more.

It’s that cycle of competition that makes our society work, not the government stepping in and forcing everyone to be “Equal.” Forcing everyone to be “Equal” is socialism, everybody gets 4.5 loaves of bread on Sundays, 2 fish on Wednesdays and if you’ve been especially complacent this week, we’ll throw in an extra bath token for you at the end of the week…

If there’s no benefit for outperforming the other guy, where’s the motive to compete? If you don’t get rewarded for outpacing the market and doing something fantastic, why even try?

Note: companies used as examples here were just that: Stand-ins for the purposes of forwarding the point of this conversation. Yes, Qwest’s customer service stinks and yes Cableone auto-throttles users and I found Clear to be cool, but laggy, (and the reach of their wireless lacking in my area) but those are other conversations entirely..


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