Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another look at Net Neutrality

Who could be against net neutrality? After all, Wikipedia describes it as "a principle proposed for residential broadband networks and potentially for all networks. A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.

The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of internet access, and another user pays for a given level of access, that the two users should be able to connect to each other at that given rate of access."

Who would be against a principle like that, right? And didn't almost everybody agree that the recent uproar over the Time Warner plan to charge fees based on usage was a bad thing?

Holman Jenkins says it's time to re-think the entire thing now that wireless is becoming part of the deal.


"Here's where the real fight begins. Google has been one of the most influential net-neut proponents. It recently secreted its top lobbyist, Andrew McLaughlin, into a White House job as deputy head of telecom policy. But Google also understands, as its chief Eric Schmidt recently put it, 'It's very, very important that the telecom operators have enough capital to continue the build-outs.'

Google's trick will be to lobby for the optimum of Internet socialism—'tiered' pricing may be OK, in which some consumers pay extra for a bigger pipe. But usage-based pricing that would give consumers a reason to think twice before clicking on a Google-sponsored ad? It would be the end of Google's business model.

And Google has allies. The greatest fear of Microsoft, Amazon, eBay and Yahoo is having to plumb their deep pockets and offer competing payments to broadband carriers to speed their bits to consumers. They much prefer spending their money to sprinkle server farms around the globe, assuring fast, reliable access for their customers in a way that no newcomer can easily replicate.

......But then, for all the grass-roots pose, net neut has always been a weapon in the hands of status-quo companies trying to protect themselves against technological change. First AOL, now Google: A lot of things may be new under the sun, but regulatory incentives aren't one of them."

What's the lesson here?

For end users, I think it's "Be careful of what you wish for".

1 comment:

  1. Bubba, I don't get this. A bit tech-witless. Does it mean we will be forced out of the big tube of connections? I read somewhere that the cyberspace is running out of space for users. That someday they will be eliminated by a government-operated priority list. you heard anything like that? selahV