Net Neutrality Links
I’ve added these links to the Net Neutrality Page today.
We follow the story of Blip.tv, an ambitious video-streaming startup. They’re fighting for a corner of the Internet marketplace in the midst of a battle over so-called ‘net neutrality’ — the idea that all Internet content and websites are given the same access to audiences and customers.
If telecommunication giants have their way, companies like Blip.tv might be forced to compete in a marketplace wherein firms with large coffers can buy access to greater bandwidth and faster Internet speeds, leaving sites who can’t afford to pay in the slow lane.
Craig Aaron of Free Press, a media watchdog group, says big telecom companies have declared open season on ‘Net neutrality.’ He’s afraid these companies will dictate how we use the Internet.
“I think one of the beauties of the Internet is that it’s been open to views across the political spectrum. And if you hand the control of the information so that some can be preferred over others, you’re going to be handing that control to the big media companies that already control our television, airwaves, radio, you name it,” Aaron says.
For their part, telecom companies argue that a fast lane on the Internet for those willing to pay will allow them to make a return on their multibillion-dollar investment in broadband infrastructure. At present, companies such as Verizon and AT&T only charge for access to the Internet, but make virtually no money from content.
What’s bewildering in the net neutrality debate is that both sides say they have the same goals – they want the Internet to maintain its usefulness, to keep maturing, and to continue to get better. At first glance, it would be easy to think that one side wants that done via government regulation and the other through the free market. But that’s really not the case. Network neutrality is a much more complex issue than “Big Business vs. Consumer Rights” or “Big Government vs. Free-market Competition”.
Ray Gifford offers a realist’s prognostication on the likely effects of network neutrality: only the lawyers win.
Not the end of the world if network neutrality laws pass, not the end of the world if they fail to pass. Only, if network neutrality becomes law, low latency high-speed service will be routed through “private networks” while ordinary traffic travels via the “public network” internet. The distinctions between the two will be somewhat arbitrary, but important to the law, and that is why lawyers win. Overall, a sensible if not too hopeful view.
Compare the calm Gifford tone to the more alarmist sounds of eBay CEO Meg Whitman (that’s her smiling face in the picture) in an email sent to members of the “eBay community”: . . .
–ME “Liz” Strauss
NET NEUTRALITY PAGE