3 Lies of Net Neutrality



The closest my mother and stepfather ever got to the Internet was a WebTV set top box we bought for their kitchen TV.  Like most non-technical people, if I talked to them about technology and policy, I lost their attention immediately.  This is the reaction people get when I mention “Net Neutrality”.  It’s a technology and policy issue, and it’s not well understood, so we have to fight the MEGO (my eyes glaze over) factor.

Net Neutrality is about a lie.  Three lies, in fact.

Three lies that lead to one bad policy conclusion:  you didn’t build this; you don’t own this; and we (the government) are taking it over.

The first lie is that you didn’t build this.  The Internet companies didn’t build a huge infrastructure just to sell you a little driveway onto the information superhighway.  The government didn’t build the information superhighway—the Internet companies built it.  The government didn’t pay for it with tax dollars either—you did by paying service fees.

And your connection to Netflix is only as fast as the slowest link in the chain.  When you pay your ISP, you’re paying for them to maintain every connection in that chain, and for them to connect to every other ISP.  You’re paying them to connect to the services and companies you use every day.  Just because you’re limited right now in your broadband options because of “the last mile” problem doesn’t mean you’ll be limited tomorrow, but the Net Neutrality supporters want you to believe that.

The second lie is that bandwidth is a finite quantity.  This is nonsense.  Connection speeds have increased 27-fold and more in the last 20 years, without ISPs having to dig up every foot of wire and fiber in their networks every time they upgrade.  We haven’t even approached technical bandwidth limits, never mind the physics behind them.

The Net Neutrality supporters would have you believe that ISPs want to limit bandwidth to popular services just to make more money from you, as if bandwidth were like beachfront real estate.  If ISPs want to charge for large bandwidth users, it’s to provide better service to their customers, and ultimately, to improve their network.  Remember, you’re paying for all of this.

You.  Not the government.  Not your neighbor.

The third lie is that the Net has always been “neutral” and Net Neutrality is somehow preserving that neutrality.  The Net has never been “neutral” in this way.  You can only believe the third lie if you buy into the other two.  If an ISP wants to attract more customers, all they have to do is offer more bandwidth.  Voila.  Faster service.  Or connect to more ISPs, or allow more services to host their data directly on the ISP’s network, closer to you.  Voila.  More reliable connections.

All of the reasons Net Neutrality supporters use to justify the government taking over the Internet are absurd unless you are an anti-corporate, anti-business activist.  Like the disaffected hippies who crashed FCC hearings.

Before your eyes glaze over, hear this one thing:  the ISPs, phone and data carriers, cell networks, and cable companies who run most of the Internet can function and adapt in either a non-regulated or a regulated environment.  They know how to play the game of grease-the-pig politics and pay high-priced lobbyists to curry favor with government fiefdoms who pick winners and losers.

They also know how to market to consumers like you and me, and how to make customers happy and keep them happy.  Right now, you have the power to make or break these companies, because you’re paying the bills and (mostly) calling the shots.  Net Neutrality fundamentally changes that balance of power toward the government.  Government (fatcat elites, lobbyists, and power hungry bureaucrats) wins, and you lose.

That’s what this battle is about.  Let the FCC know that they have to stop this monster by clicking here and submitting your comments before it’s too late.