Tomorrow is the Internet Slowdown. Essentially an awareness raising day in support of Net Neutrality.
My thoughts on Net Neutrality are pretty straightforward. I worked for an ISP (the one that Tom Wheeler of the FCC was on board of directors for 10 years) at an executive level for seven years so have some interesting insights into the matter from a business perspective. What is being proposed is that ISPs can charge Internet application companies fees to deliver their services to consumers at a faster rate. What is being proposed is that bits that move around the Internet can be treated in a discriminatory manner. One of the core foundations of the Internet is non-discrimination. I believe making this policy move would be a mistake.
As a consumer I am already paying for last mile Internet service that is more than adequate to deliver any content me or the rest of my household might use. In my mind to go to an app provider and make them pay to ensure the level of service that I am already paying the ISP for is nothing more than selling the same bandwidth twice. ISPs want to do this because the ISP business model is based on overselling bandwidth to users. As consumer’s appetite for content has increased that bandwidth is no longer oversold. For ISPs to deliver the level of service they have sold requires more infrastructure which costs money and reduces earnings. The core of the ISP side of the Net Neutrality argument is about profits.
In the world of IP content and carriage are being separated which is not good for a company that is used to providing both. Not good for companies like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. Carriage is a commodity and in the future companies that provide it will only earn commodity type profits. So they are fighting it in every way they can, including the use of discriminatory practices and introduction of new regulations. I believe this is backward monopolistic thinking that is not good for the consumer, technology startups, or the development of our national technology infrastructure.
If you are of like mind please consider joining the Internet Slowdown campaign now.