Friday, May 09, 2014

The flip side of net neutrality

We love the internet, don't we? We can go where we want, find what we want, download what we want, anywhere, anytime, no matter what. It's a free net out there.

New proposed FCC rules would allow everyone to charge everyone else what the market will bear to carry traffic. Google could charge Comcast to carry it's traffic. Comcast could charge back. Imagine an infinite loop of carriage contracts and bandwidth limiting games between commercial interests.

This new set of rules has been proposed by none other than the chairman of the FCC himself, Tom Wheeler. There is a really good reason for this. Wheeler was nominated and installed there by the cable and telco industries. Now that there are huge monopolies locking up the market, they want to make more money with help from the government. Why, with their monopolies, they could really put the screws to everyone else with these new rules, now couldn't they?

Just imagine a world where no matter where you go on the internet, you'll have to pay money each time, or, you'll have to pay a subscription fee. Yes, the new, much more expensive internet will mean that only the well to do will be able to afford just browsing the internet and getting the content that they want. Censorship has a new name: paywalled.

It is truly amazing how CEOs can't get a grip on how the internet works. The internet was built as an open platform that everyone can use and share. By keeping the network as a common ground, everyone has a chance to fail or succeed. Everyone has a chance to see what is out there.

But if the cable and telcos have their way, the internet will become a walled garden. Comcast users will only be able to see what Comcast wants you to see. Centurylink users will only be able to see what Centurylink wants you to see. If you want to see more, you will have to pay your ISP for access and you will have to pay the destination for access. In a sense, everyone will be paying tolls to each other. The biggest losers in this game are the consumers.

But the telecom CEOs will laugh all the way to the bank on this one if it passes.

To get a sense of how bad this proposal is, check out how more than 100 of the biggest companies are making themselves heard. Google and Microsoft are together on this one. That's how bad it is. All of the really big names are against it.

But you have a chance to weigh in on the rules, right here. More than 100,000 have spoken against the proceeding, 14-28, Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet. You can have a voice here, too.
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