Do you have a point of view on Net Neutrality?
Let me ask that another way… Do you get a thrill out of discovering tiny, niche web boutiques, with the most amazing selection of that thing you love? Do you dance through your day to an Internet radio soundtrack that, like, totally gets who you are because you’ve been teaching it the artists you can’t live without for years, and now it knows to never play that song that was his favorite ever again? Do you love not going into a panic that your evening commute is totally hosed and you’re going to miss the season finale of your favorite TV show ’cause you know you can just replay it with your number one online streaming service? Do you dig listening to your favorite geeky foodie and his latest audio podcasts? Are you amazed you’re actually learning to play guitar with a video podcast? Are you thrilled you can phone friends around the country or around the world — affordably! — with an IP phone service? Did you find the one-and-only love of your life on an online dating service? More than one? (Go, you!)
Do you enjoy the Internet you’re using today? Then you probably should have a point of view on Net Neutrality, and it might look something like this:
The folks who provide you with Internet services — i.e. your cable company, your phone company, your wireless phone company — are arguing that such provisions would impact their investment in new broadband capacity (and investment in their companies on Wall Street, and presumably the American way of life). This argument is false on its face — it’s not as though they’ve collectively made updates to their services that weren’t of absolute competitive necessity. More, it’s wrong in that it gets the cause and the effect reversed. It’s not service providers that create the impetus or demand for increased speed or capacity, but innovative new applications that do. The cycle actually looks something like this:
- Innovative company bootstraps some new sort of applications nobody’s ever even thought of before (e.g. Yahoo! or YouTube, Netflix or Pandora, Facebook or Twitter… you get the idea.)
- People want to use all these new apps and call their ISPs to upgrade their broadband subscription, opting for the Cable Supreme Max package with all the bits.
- Internet Service Providers… profit. No, really. Sure, they should probably upgrade their networks — add more peering capacity upstream to better rebalance and distribute the bits that popular apps are streaming through their network — but mostly they don’t bother and instead take the money, enjoy their profits, and occasionally try to shake down the apps that are innovating so that they can make bank on both ends.
- And then another innovative company creates the next new thing and we start all over again.
Instead of being honest brokers of services while offering in-kind transactions of bits and packets, instead of investing in themselves and their own carrying capacities and by so doing raising the overall capacity of our public Internet, instead of delivering innovations at the last mile of network service that could easily offer data rates of up to fifty times the service you have today, your “high speed” Internet provider has teamed up with their monopolistic pals to degrade your service and extort fees from innovative web services — those same web services and apps that make up the Internet you love.
So maybe you have a point of view, after all. Today is your last day to share it with the FCC. Be clear — be nice! — and let ‘em know exactly what you think. You can use the handy public comment form the FCC has provided here but, honestly, it’s probably broken because on this last day of comments it’s swamped. It may be more effective to send an e-mail to the inbox that the FCC has dedicated to public comment, at [email protected]. Your voice counts equally either way.