The internet is currently working quite well. It has been for a long time. So obviously we need to drastically change it.
I guess I'll risk standing apart from the "cool" crowd and say that net neutrality is a silly idea. The most obvious reason is that the internet is working just fine. Yes, if it's not broken, the last thing we need is government bureaucracies "fixing" it.
But what if internet service providers start to restrict what I can access? What if they blocked certain sites unless I upgraded to a premium plan? What if small businesses had to pay to play?
All great points. And what if all the unicorns in the world decided to stop dusting us with glitter and rainbows and turned against mankind?
Beside the fact that the internet already operates with fast-lanes for companies willing to pay, the arguments in favor of net neutrality continue to set up non-existent problems in order to impose a so-called solution.
And that solution would be turning ISPs into utility companies, nominally under full control of the government. Of course, what could go wrong with that? The government has time and time again shown that it cannot even succeed at basic functions. So obviously it should be put in charge of internet access.
If that is the view you subscribe to, I certainly hope that you are happy with the internet exactly as it is right now. I hope you're happy with your current service, the current speeds and bandwidth etc. Because by turning ISPs into utilities, we would effectively take away any incentive to continue to develop and improve infrastructure. It is happening already as the debate rages on.
Perhaps the scariest part of the net neutrality argument is that it is based on regulatory forbearance. The idea that regulators, once put in charge of the internet, would govern with a light touch. If anyone can please point to any regulatory agency that has ever governed with a light touch, especially in our modern era, I would be much obliged. Regulators by nature seek to increase their regulatory reach and power. There's no way around that.
Why shouldn't companies like Netflix and Google help in the build-out of infrastructure, or pay to have their content delivered faster if all parties can come to an agreement? Let's not act like Netflix is some sort of start-up either. It consumes huge amounts of bandwidth. Wouldn't users be better off with Netflix helping to deliver movies faster? And wouldn't non-users be better off with freed up bandwidth.
Now I'm certainly not arguing that we allow Comcast to hold companies hostage. There are already rules and laws in place to deal with that. And what incentive would Comcast, or any other ISP, have to do something like that in a competitive market?
Competition ultimately will be the thing that helps consumers the most, not additional regulation. We all have multiple options for ISPs and they continue to grow. Last year we had a company start a new service in our area, offering double the speeds for the same price. We made the switch. The other companies quickly followed suit, offering faster speeds and lower prices. That is what we want, isn't it? Government simply can't regulate that into existence.
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My personal musings on a variety of topics.