Tech Industry

Goodbye net neutrality... Now what?

What will an Internet without net neutrality look like? As the opinions fly, Michael P. Kassner considers what makes sense and what doesn't.
 
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On January 14, 2014, a United States Court of Appeals struck down the FCC's net neutrality directive. This decision created quite a stir in the tech media, and I'd like to take a look at why. Before we begin, let's make sure we agree what net neutrality means. Net neutrality defined

The original intent of net neutrality was to prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from controlling what we, as paying members of their services, can access. Net neutrality also leveled the playing field, making sure ISPs did not show partiality to content providers. For example, under net neutrality, Comcast -- which has a relationship with NBC -- must provide the same level of service to ABC, a competitor of NBC. Without net neutrality, Comcast can give NBC preferential treatment.

Don't blame the courts

If you are thinking about blaming the courts for their decision, don't: Legal experts, even those in favor of net neutrality, have said the court made the correct ruling. Why the ruling is correct harkens back to March 2002, when the FCC decided to reclassify broadband Internet access from a telecommunications service to an information service.

By deregulating those offering broadband Internet access, the FCC had hoped the Internet service providers would increase their investment in infrastructure. An unforeseen byproduct of deregulation was that ISPs began exerting god-like control over traffic on their network, which Comcast did in 2007 when it disallowed BitTorrent traffic on its network.

Playing favorites goes against what the FCC envisioned for the Internet. So in 2010, it once again tried to regulate what it had deregulated in 2002 -- broadband Internet access -- with its Open Internet ruling:

"The 'Open Internet' is the Internet as we know it. It's open because it uses free, publicly available standards that anyone can access and build to, and it treats all traffic that flows across the network in roughly the same way."

This attempt to return to net neutrality, or Open Internet, upset the large Telco providers, with Verizon at the forefront and eventually taking the FCC to court. The following quote from the court's ruling explains the FCC's mistake:

"That said, even though the Commission has general authority to regulate in this arena, it may not impose requirements that contravene express statutory mandates. Given that the Commission has chosen to classify broadband providers in a manner that exempts them from treatment as common carriers, the Communications Act expressly prohibits the Commission from nonetheless regulating them as such."

What does the loss of net neutrality mean?

Getting rid of net neutrality will allow ISPs like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon to supply, for a price, preferential treatment to content providers. AT&T is already doing this with its Sponsored Data service.

Sponsoring companies agree to pay AT&T so its subscribers need not worry about monthly data limits -- a digital version of the razor/razor blade theory. Content providers willing to do this are giving their users more or less a free data pass, so consumers will consider this a plus. The scary downside for users is that ISPs can regulate search results and direct queries. For example, search results from one ISP's network could be dramatically different from the next.

Small businesses are potentially at risk with the loss of net neutrality. Not having the deep pockets of the larger content providers, they may not be able to afford preferential treatment by the ISPs, potentially losing customers who have come to expect fast service.

Options open to the FCC

It sounds simple enough: All the FCC has to do is reverse its 2002 decision, making broadband Internet access once more a telecommunications service. Then the FCC could enforce net neutrality. But experts consider that move a political nightmare, with Republicans in the House of Representatives adamantly opposed to net neutrality and threatening to defund the FCC if net neutrality returns.

A viewpoint biased toward users

I'd like to introduce someone who has been, and I have little doubt will continue to be, an outspoken advocate of user Internet rights: Dr. Susan P. Crawford. She focuses on telecommunications and information law, and her book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age helped me understand the intricacies of the net neutrality debate while preparing this article.

Your take

Net neutrality is a contentious and extremely complicated topic. What's more, the decisions of others will affect all of us who use the Internet, as well as how the Internet functions going forward. I'm hoping for our sake, they get it right.

Please share your feedback on this issue with fellow TechRepublic members.

About

Information is my field...Writing is my passion...Coupling the two is my mission.

49 comments
psengr_techrep
psengr_techrep

In principle, I agree with content providers having to pay for the bandwidth used by the end user. 


The difficulty comes from the way the internet operates.  Traffic does not flow from an individual content provider to the consumer over one carriers network.  


The providers ISP may be Bellsouth, the consumer's Comcast, and part of the path may be via a third network.  Currently the consumer pays for bandwidth used, either as connection speed and/or bytes transferred.  If the provider has to pay a charge for content streamed, above and beyond that for the connection channel, and the content provider sizes its connection to handle expected traffic, then the provider will be double billed, with no revenue going to the intermediate carriers..  


What would make sense, would be for the source and destination provider to charge for the connection and  data, with the portion of the charges for that data to be put into a pool that would be paid out to each ISP based on the amount of data carried that DIDN'T originate on its network.  


james
james

I think the problem is in the fact that the ISP is not solely an ISP, but also a Internet/Cable content provider.  This causes for most people a localized monopoly by that ISP on the Internet content as well as the access.  Perhaps breaking up a provider like Comcast where they have two separate companies, one that provides the local access (and is bid on at the local community level) and the other provides Internet and Cable content (Cable TV content, Netflix, etc.).


Then home users could choose from the content providers they wished to support and the local access company would have to supply equal service quality to all of them.  The cost for providing access should not have an impact on the cost to provide content.  These costs should be kept separate to avoid the access provider from having a monopolistic advantage and stifling free trade.

delowing
delowing

The monopoly Comcast is not a common carrier?  Not telecommunications? All our house phone calls are VOIP, 99 percent of our mail and bills are manged via the Internet, even legal documents are sent and signed electronically. Half my work is telecommuting, - that is not a common carrier?

What happens when the ISP Comcast decides to charge competing VOIPs for line use, pricing them out of the market?  Or charges legal radio stations for streaming privileges, even 1-person stations with a passion for music?

It is a fiction that satellite and DSL is a competitor for telecommunications.  DSL is no longer fast enough for the increasingly rich content.  As for innovators breaking into the market, that is riddiculous. Comcast fiercely defends and prices that last mile to the house - even when government grants cover all cost for installation, as they have for more rural areas.  The government has paid for cable so the major ISPs can control the content.

monsuco
monsuco

There has been far too much sensationalism. This isn't the "end of the open internet".


What happens now? The ISPs will continue throttling bittorrent, which they basically had been doing anyway. Bittorrent users will continue with things like protocol header encryption, which they had basically been doing anyway.


Most ISP's still won't try blocking competitor's products since, regardless of the FCC's rule-making authority, preventing people from using a competitor's product would STILL probably violate various anti-trust legislation, not to mention the extreme customer backlash.


It's probable Comcast might prioritize their services over others on their network but ultimately, it is THEIR network existing on THEIR hardware. It's possible some content providers (say Netflix) might pay a little more for prioritization. Odds are pretty good you won't notice much except during peak usage hours. As bandwidth improves, you'll notice this less and less. 


I suppose its also worth noting that free-floating prices control basically every other aspect of our economy. Most people don't seem to realize that a price is more than just a number, it's also the way we alocate resources. Prices control everything from how many cars are produced (and what kind) to how much milk is used for cheese vs. yogurt vs. ice cream vs. consumer milk. The reason why the USA seldom had shortages of cars or milk while the old USSR constantly had such shortages was because the USA allowed for prices for most products to float to their natural market equilibrium while the USSR's government controlled prices. If free floating prices can control how our society allocates and produces everything from food to cars to houses, why should bandwidth be any different?


In the long run, the best answer to net neutrality isn't more regulation of ISP's, it's having more ISP's for customers to choose from. Originally, cable and DSL pretty much existed as a duopoly but the market is changing. Satellite internet is available almost anywhere, though prices are high and performance can be lacking but it's a boon to rural residents. If someone's local cable and DSL companies are both too ham-fisted, it might be that satellite could provide a good 3rd option. With Dish Network's entry into the ISP field HughesNet is no longer the only satellite ISP game in town. Broadband over power may soon be a reality. Power companies are still experimenting with ways of transmitting data through power lines. Power lines are kinda "noisy" but the technology will get there eventually. With the switch to digital TV, we'll be able to use some of the space freed up on the spectrum for internet usage. Verizon, Google et al are laying more and more fiber and fiber to the home may be an option some day. Cell phone companies already offer mobile broadband but it wouldn't surprise me if they eventually get their acts together and can expand their networks to the point where they can provide home internet services using their cell towers (and maybe bring back unlimited data).


I'm not too worried. Worst case scenario is we need legislation but for now, net neutrality legislation sounds like a solution in search of a problem.

krapyln
krapyln

@Michael Kassner " It was regulated just like telecommunications services, then the FCC changed it to information services and that it seems removed the "free speech" requirement. At least that is how I understand it, ("do you really stand under it?") the legalese is bit difficult to parse" 


Court ruling?? Any and all things legal is and always was a dead fiction, unless you insist on continuing being dead by consent. Pope Francis Apostolic letter of 11 July 2013 removed all immunity under Roman Curia, under which ALL and everything corporate was created. This is what the apocalypse of rev 18 tell us about if you don`t take that book literal. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio_20130711_organi-giudiziari_en.html - http://kateofgaia.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/theimportanceofmotuproprio1.pdf


We where all in the same boat - "ship" - mind (govern-mental) but I Am the living witness and captain of my own ship/mind now. The whore of babylon (commerce) and it`s TEMPLE B.A.R. courts (Rome) with it`s judges and lawyers is coming/going down right now. 

http://kateofgaia.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/did-you-know-youre-a-criminal-if.pdf  

http://kateofgaia.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/achilles-heal.pdf

http://kateofgaia.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/one-ring-to-rule-them-all-by-kate-of-gaia-pt1.pdf


All above documents to be found on http://kateofgaia.wordpress.com/kates-writings/


I am just like you out to inform not to harm anyone, but if you think I am off topic YOU are missing the boat and the true magic in this world.


Much Love to all of you stÅle.......   


PS. I know you are busy but still urge you to at least read "Did you know you are a criminal if you..." (one short page) and see if this information could have any implications on you and your loved ones. And don`t worry this is not fearporn because the remedy/solution is contained within. 


The Former Moley
The Former Moley

Can you explain the consequences of this on the rest of the world please.

progan01
progan01

The political implications for the demise of Net Neutrality are simple: The deep pockets buy all the bandwidth to push their message. The Republicans feel this is their message anyway, so they want the commons of the Internet turned into a toll highway whose prices will keep out hoi polloi, i.e., everybody else. You and me.


There's also the hope that what will happen to the Net will be the same thing that happened to the public airwaves in the wake of the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine: Right-wing and fringe content will take over. The demise of the Fairness Doctrine gave us Rush Limbaugh, FOX News and Glenn Beck. Imagine what the Internet would look like if Rush Limbaugh ran it. Or Rupert Murdoch. Or Karl Rove.


The hope appears to be that with the demise of Net Neutrality, pesky interlopers into public business like the ACLU, the Anti-Defamation League and others will be rightfully strangled in their beds. The Demon-Crats will be shut down, and only the glorious Word of Your God will appear on your screens, your phones, at work, at home, in the subway, in your bathroom. Are you ready for that?

wirejockey
wirejockey

The better question is; What will (the US) without net neutrality look like? The answer may very well be; The end of the free exchange of information. I propose the following: https://projectmeshnet.org

support
support

To Chrisnj's point:


"The problem is service markets and areas where there has been a monopoly on service providers imposed by local governments.  In most areas, there is ONE cable provider and ONE telephone provider to provide Internet service."


Ok, let's allow deregulation and all the creativity & innovation that comes with it INCLUDING the monopoly on who provides cable and other medium data services in an area. All or none! Right now, if you don't like your cable carrier's content or pricing AND you want cable service, you have no choice (excepting the 5% fringes from the bell curve)


If this monopoly is removed, the need for regulated net neutrality will diminish through natural selection!!

esalkin
esalkin

I would arge that the 1st Amendment's free speech right implies that we also have a right to hear.  If a company offers internet access they cannot limit what information you are allowed to hear.

As an side effect, if a customer choses to access information that is illegal it is the user whould should be held responsible.  The company should not be held responsible for providing open access.

AAC Tech
AAC Tech

I think the Internet should be just be like roads. They are there and you are free to use them and travel where ever you like.

Perhaps a Short Wave radio based Internet is the way to go.

Mike

cybershooters
cybershooters

The real problem is for international internet users.  As the NSA demonstrated, most internet traffic goes through the US, but really what incentive do the ISPs have to allow it?  Say for example I'm not based in the US and none of my customers are, but if I do a tracert then the traffic clearly passes through the US between my website and them.  Given that these companies don't even have operations in my country in most cases, how exactly do I even pay to get preferential treatment?  Possibly I can pay them internationally, do they even speak my language, etc?


It just defeats the whole purpose of the internet, this is what Larry Page et al have been warning about for years, balkanization of the internet.  The NSA scandal already placed pressure on it so if ISPs now start throttling say, Russian and Chinese traffic, the thing is going to fall apart.

chrisnj
chrisnj

The Internet is not a free natural resource.  It is composed of equipment and hardware, all of which is owned by someone, and most of it by private companies and investors.  That ownership needs to be respected.

These provider companies are being held legally liable and responsible for the actions of people using their equipment, and private owners have every legal, moral, and ethical right to control who and how others use their property.


The problem is service markets and areas where there has been a monopoly on service providers imposed by local governments.  In most areas, there is ONE cable provider and ONE telephone provider to provide Internet service.


The answer is a free and unfettered market, with multiple providers and provider technologies.  If you don't like the TOS restrictions imposed by one vendor, you are free to contract with another less restrictive one.  You are also free to find investors and start your own provider company with a total lack of restrictions, if that is what you believe in.

Make no mistake, the wolf in sheep's clothing of the Owellian-named Net Neutrality proposals was(is) an intent to put government bureaucrats in charge of dictating appropriate use and content, and to undermine the legal ability of providers and investors to control their property and their liability exposure.


So-call Net Neutrality is not dead.  Merely taking a time-out.  Bad ideas never go away.

pgit
pgit

One big advantage to the powers that be is they will be able to stamp out the concept of a random idea/video/what have you, "going viral."


I think 'undesirables' can be virtually eliminated, as well. eg certain political ideas can be identified and then ignored by search engines or other filtering systems.

The day I'm not allowed to access a site because my ISP doesn't like it is the day I cancel my subscription. I will not support  a corporate censor.

Craig_B
Craig_B

I think what would be best for the people would be to bring back net neutrality is some way.  I don't have a lot of faith in our current government to make this happen.  Here's my prediction, we will go along without net neutrality, ISP's will slowly take more and more advantage of this until they reach a point that is too painful.  This will then become a hot topic and the government will start regulating the industry in some way.


Kenneth Pennuto
Kenneth Pennuto

The plan-

1-Innovate something that will revolutionize an industry or life

2-Market it everywhere as the new age of " "

3-Give it away at almost insane prices initially

4-Deregulate it

5-Once demand is so great for it and there is an inherent dependency on it

6-Reduce the capabilities of it and sell them as service add-ins at a high premium

7-Incrementally enhance the product so as to drive the market for improved capabilities

8-Make it illegal for anyone else to bypass your product

Result should be- Everyone stops using your product....but that is difficult and you know it.

Perfect plan.

Khulud Habaybeh
Khulud Habaybeh

for a period I think we in Jordan will not be affected with these regulations changes.

bbjgm
bbjgm

Won't new ISPs spring up that guarantee access to whatever content you want at certain speeds without limits. If the demand is there, the product will follow? I'm relatively in the boonies and we still have DSL, Cable Internet, 4G cell internet. With increases in possible speeds, this will be less of an issue? 

josha12
josha12

What if every business encrypted their data so that ISPs have no idea what it is? Anonymity through Encryption, I mean they cant control what they cant see or lookup 

eric.p
eric.p

@progan01 What absurd nonsense!  Apparently the Fairness Doctrine meant for you that nobody who disagrees with you could/should supply content to those who demand it. Perhaps you should move to some country with a very authoritarian government that will stifle all dissent, including yours, if you have any.  It's all great, just as long as you don't become a dissenter yourself.  They would set prices so that choices would be limited to what they deem necessary for you to be a good citizen.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

@esalkin 


It was regulated just like telecommunications services, then the FCC changed it to information services and that it seems removed the "free speech" requirement. At least that is how I understand it, the legalese is bit difficult to parse. 

TRgscratch
TRgscratch

@AAC Tech    "The Internet" IS just like roads.  The ISPs who want control, are the on- and off-ramps.  The problem, as has been pointed out is the lack of choice in which ramp to use

wizard57m-cnet
wizard57m-cnet moderator

Just like roads...with various traffic control signals, signs, regulations, speed limits...are you sure?

bobc4012
bobc4012

 @chrisnj Unfortunately, it takes tremendous investment to start a cable company or a telco. Then you also run into the problem will the local government allow you to lay cable, telephone or other lines to people's homes - or rent, lease (if you can) space on the cell towers. While too many people blame the federal government for lack of competition, more often than not, it is a local problem. The city will not allow the competition in. You won't see TWC and Comcast awarded the contract to compete in the same town. Likewise, you don't see ATT and Verizon compete for the same landline, DSL, TV service in the same town. They can compete with their local cable company, but don't.

I live in an area dominated by TWC and ATT.  Verizon has some good offerings, but they can't come into my town. I would consider satellite, but it has 2 problems a) bad reception during bad storms and b) internet service is via DSL - either Verizon (again, not in our town) or ATT - with decreasing data transfer rate the further you are from an "office".

A while back, our town allowed a startup to compete with the cable company. They were restricted to one neighborhood (on a trial basis). Because of that restriction, they did not have sufficient people available to sign up to make it pay off - whereas if they had been allowed access to the entire town, they might have been able to survive - also should mention that the cable company dropped prices in that neighborhood to match, further reducing the incentive of those customers to switch. The town government should have stepped in and told the cable company if they reduce  prices in that neighborhood, then they have to offer the entire town the same pricing.

The problem is BOTH political parties allowed deregulation to disappear and did not ensure competition when it was in effect. I remember when telephones and telephone lines were controlled only by ATT. After the breakup, each "Baby Bell" had its own region. The breakup should have allowed for competition between them -- after all, the was the reasoning behind the breakup. Of course, after a few years, the companies with the most ability "gobbled up" the other companies. I see the same type of situation with the internet ISPs - no, or little, good competition. I know some offer "package deals for one or two years, but then the price jumps up dramatically. I know one can switch every year or two to another package deal, but after a while those companies are no longer going to consider you a "new customer" when you go back to them.

While readers might denigrate Google, maybe they can put a dent into the ISPs monopolistic grip.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

@Craig_B 


I think you may be right. A lot depends on how much the FCC wants to push Congressional Republicans.

bobc4012
bobc4012

@Kenneth Pennuto I agree with most of your comment, however, "4. degulate it" invites competition - you don't want deregulation - it allows others to break into your monopoly. "5. Once the demand is so great ..." once you have that type of demand (plus the lack of competition), incrementally raise the price periodically ala that "proverbial water torture - drip, drip, drip". "6. Reduce the capabilities ...". No need to - other than customer service (preferably outsourced to a country where they don't speak your customer's language) - but as you stated, sell new add-ons at a high premium.

chrisnj
chrisnj

@Kenneth Pennuto


There are a couple of flaws in your plan ...


First of all, innovation never occurs in a heavily regulated environment.  Innovation happens in the legal loopholes and in unregulated areas and often is motivated by a desire in the first place to avoid the stifling effects and high costs of the existing regulations.  Therefore your plan misses the step where politicians and bureaucrats step in to a new, wildly successful area of endeavor and attempt to control it by regulating it in the first place.


What built the Internet was keeping the hands of government out of it.  Government, while a marginally necessary institution, is the most anti-innovative, anti-competitive institution on earth.


Secondly, the imposition of monopoly by "making it illegal for anyone else to bypass your product" (sounds like Obamacare, but that's another argument) cannot exist without an intrusion by government into the free market (and isn't "making it illegal" actually the sort of regulation you are advocating when you imply that "Deregulation" is a bad thing?).


Competition - real competition - breeds restraint.  Even the possibility that another provider will enter the market and provide the same or a similar service at a lower price or with less restrictive terms, discourages the current providers from raising prices or imposing too many restrictive Terms Of Service in the first place.

History is littered with defunct "can't do without" products and companies who thought they had the market cornered, who were replaced by rebellious little upstarts and alternative products that provided the same or a similar utility at a lower cost and in a more efficient way.


Net Neutrality is in the end like the local city council coming to my house and telling me that I MUST open up my back  yard for a block party - that I can't have any say in who comes or what they do - BUT if drugs are sold or minors consume beer *I* will be held personally responsible, my property seized, and me and my family thrown in jail.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

Possibly, throttling or the blacklisting of websites could be happening. It is hard to verify.

xmechanic
xmechanic

That may not work if the base IP is blocked by the provider. Another alternative is the TOR network, which even if it's blocked by the ISP, can be accessed with a TOR relay. Unfortunately TOR has it's limitations and doesn't support a lot of browser plugins like flashplayer (which I despise anyway). HTML5 is a lot less resource intensive and will hopefully replace Flash in the near future.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

I'd like to help you, could you provide a bit more information, please?

kmnugent
kmnugent

Republicans tend to favor businesses and businessmen.  By eliminating net neutrality, it gives businesses more power.

mark
mark

@bbjgm They won't because the cost of building infrastructure is too high. The market will support only a limited number of providers in a market; in smaller markets that number is one. If some pesky company comes along and tries to intrude, the well funded incumbent can engage in predatory pricing until the upstart folds.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

Wrong doesn't matter if the customers or as you say "Demand" is there business will only ever introduce anything if they can do it for next to nothing as a cost to them and make a massive profit into the bargain. If a government agency at some level pays for the Infrascture and then gives it to the companies to use as they see fit you might get it but far more likely you'll just get more of the same that you already had with at best slightly increased speeds and large payments to access the service just like cell phones where horrendously expensive when they where first introduced.

Even with lots of competition services do not get better or cheaper quickly they are slowly introduced over long periods to maximize profit.

I always get a laugh when I hear people say things like what you have just posted business isn't there to serve or even provide what people want/need they are there to make a profit with as little outlays as possible. After all if they spend lots to introduce something in anything other than "Marketing" all that they are doing is increasing their expenses and reducing their profits for the next few cycles that they plan for. So if they can not recoup their outlays within their "Planning Periods" and make a Handsome profit they are not going to do it. Just look at what the Electric Companies do with their Poles & Wires. No maintenance or at least never enough and when they need to spend money to catch up on the us performed maintenance they increase their prices to pay for what they have already been paid for and redirected that income to profits from the maintenance that they should have been doing all along.

Col

Elli21486
Elli21486

@bbjgm I don't think so. North Carolina tried to create a community internet due to lack of service but the Telecom companies lobbied and won to make the community internet illegal in the state back in 2011. As of today, North Carolina has the second worst broadband in the country.

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

@bbjgm 


Possibly, it will depend on what the major backbone providers (AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) decide to do. 

HAL 9000
HAL 9000 moderator

They would just stop transferring Encrypted Data like they did with BitTorrents and you would be back at Square One.

Problems like this happen all the time that you allow Legal People & Politicians to be involved in making the Laws. They mess everything they touch up. Lawyers should only ever be involved in interpreting Laws never Making them as they have proved totally inept in producing Laws with no unintended consequences ever.

They make things so complicated that they can and do get interpurated in whatever way suits those who bring the challenge against them.

Col

Michael Kassner
Michael Kassner

@josha12 


That might be of help, but since ISPs have the power, they could conceivably throttle any traffic that is encrypted. That would be extreme, but if I understand correctly, currently legal.

bobc4012
bobc4012

I tried to edit it and ran over the 5 minute time limit and it blocked my edits. What I wanted to change was the paragraph "The problem is BOTH ..." to 


The problem is BOTH political parties allowed deregulation to disappear and did not ensure competition when it was in effect. I remember when telephones and telephone lines were controlled only by ATT. After the breakup, each "Baby Bell" had its own region. The breakup should have allowed for competition between them -- after all, the was the reasoning behind the breakup. BTW, ATT essentially had to give up those telephone lines it had originally laid. In the same manner, that could be applied to the cable companies. Let's face it. In the modern world, cable (and comparable) TV has become a modern day "utility" just as telephone became. As late as the early 1960s, the telephone was still considered a luxury in many places.


bobc4012
bobc4012

@chrisnj@Kenneth Pennuto Actually,, it was the government who played the key role in developing the internet. Eisenhower, when he was president gave the go-ahead for ARPA (former name for DARPA). The government did rely on the work of researchers in the universities. ARPANET was the forerunner of the internet. The first information packet was sent from UCLA to Stanford. For an interesting article on it see: http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa091598.htm .It was at some later point in time where I was given access to it where I worked so we could communicate and exchange information with other sites.

Shane10101
Shane10101

@HAL 9000 Exactly!!!  Businesses are only driven by profit.  They want to make as much money as they can, and they need customers in order to do that -- the more customers, the better.  To get as many customers as they can, they have to appear more attractive than their competitors.  They could do this by providing a better product (or at least by leading people to believe their product is better), or they could provide a product that's good-enough for less money, or some combination of the two.  


Here's the thing though:  If I'm in business, and I come up with a way to make a better product, or a less-expensive but just-as-good product, I'm going to get that out to market as fast as I can, before my competitors come up with something better!  Holding things back and rolling them out slowly doesn't maximize profits.  It reduces profits, and might even put me out of business.  Making products better and cheaper gives customers what they want, and that gives me more business.  Even if I'm not making as much per sale, I'm making way more sales, and making way more profit!  (Or, at least, that's what I want.)


The problem comes in when you wind up with monopolies.  For most products, this doesn't happen because there's always somebody else out there who wants a piece of the action, but sometimes there are things that prevent anybody else from coming in.  Your "electric companies" example is perfect.  Cities don't usually let more than one power company run wires.  Instead, they make a deal with one company to service an area.  That's one way you wind up with a monopoly, and when those power companies know they don't have to compete for business, they do exactly what you've said.  They have nothing to worry about!


Cable TV companies were, at one time, another example of this, but, of course, there's always somebody else out there who wants in, and, in that case, they found a way to do it: Satellites.  DirectTV didn't need permission to run wires anywhere.  (@mark -- they were an upstart, and they found a way around the high infrastructure costs.)  They came into the market offering a service that was just as good as cable, but for less money, and with more choices.  Cable companies had to drop their rates, and start offering more options in order to attract (or keep) their customers. 


This is what profit-motivated businesses have to do -- they have to provide what people want, and do so for a better deal than the competition offers, if they want to make a profit.  Monopolies screw all that up because they make it so that people don't have a choice, and, in almost every case, the way you wind up with a monopoly is when you let business influence governments.  The two should never mix.  It's a bad deal for customers, and a sweet deal for businesses and corrupt politicians.   


I think this is what will happen with net neutrality:  I don't want my internet connection censored.  Most of us don't! As soon as we get politicians out of bed with the service provider monopolies, that will open the door for someone to come along and DirectTV their a**es!  Most people want that, so either the other providers will have to offer the same, or they're going to lose a whole lot of business. 

fatmann
fatmann

Encryption is a requirement for most businesses. Especially B2B connections with PI, financial, or HIPAA data streams.

This ultimately will come down to censorship and 1st Amendment rights Freedom of speech and infringing on the freedom of the press especially in the scenario of allowing one media outlet and throttling or restricting another.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen moderator

@fatmannNo, it won't.  The 1st Amendment only applies to government actions, not to the actions of private businesses.  


The FCC needs to step up, bite the bullet, admit they made a mistake in 2002, and reclassify the ISPs as common carriers.

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