Luke’s Life

Net Neutrality

Posted in Uncategorized by lrobison on October 23, 2009

This post is unpolished, and will probably be evolving as I cement my views on the issue. My real reason for writing this is to organize and record my own thoughts.

Initially I was very pro Net Neutrality, and honestly if it were well drafted I could still be for it. The problem is that regulating such a law would be an opportunity for the FCC to introduce all sorts of monitoring equipment into ISP’s networks, and that worries me. I also don’t like the idea of the government telling me what I can and can’t do with my data lines. What if I want to run an ISP that advertises better XBox QoS compared to internet? Does my open wireless network give the FCC the right to come into my home and check my QoS conditions?

A lot of the arguments you hear for Net Neutrality seem to think that it will prevent companies from charging high prices or somehow give us tons of bandwidth for the same price. Its not price regulation… I don’t see how this is going to happen.

The real problem is that end-customers don’t have enough choices of content providers, which is probably a symptom of there not being enough backbone providers to actually move data around. Unfortunately building a backbone is not cheap, and unlike the Highway system that everyone keeps comparing it to, it was privately funded.

I suppose my conclusion in this long-winded post is that I don’t want government regulation, but that Telcoms are currently in a position to abuse their power. The only solutions I can think of are not particularly great ones, but I’d love to hear alternatives:

  • Encourage more backbone development by more companies. When everyone is leasing from Ma Bell then Ma Bell is ultimately setting the price and controlling the internet.
  • Enforce not necessarily Net Neutrality, but Net Accountability. This combined with more ISP options would allow customers to identify providers that are damping traffic to/from particular sources. This could be as easy as a trusted 3rd party bandwidth evaluation and “seal of approval”, but there is no incentive for providers to endorse this without some competition.

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