Photo (cc) by SeanWF
Fast and slow lanes may work for interstate traffic, but what about the Internet?
The Federal Communications Commission is expected to vote Thursday on a proposal from Chairman Tom Wheeler that would give faster Internet access to websites that pay a premium. As for everyone else, prepare to take the Internet slow lane. Says CNN Money:
FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler has insisted that Internet providers won’t be able to punish companies that don’t pay for the fast lane by slowing their speeds. But an unintended consequence of giving one company more lanes on a highway is less lanes for the rest of the traffic. And that additional fast lane revenue could create an incentive for broadband providers to allow network congestion to build, forcing companies to pay or face slow service.
This “pay to play” proposal is downright frightening. “Tech companies and activists are worried that the creation of two Internets: one quick and reliable for those that can afford it, and the other, of a lesser quality, would seriously undermine the Internet as an open medium for limitless entrepreneurship and communication,” Slate.com said.
If this proposal is accepted, it will likely take a toll on your Internet service, CNN Money said. Here are three big reasons that you should care about the net neutrality issue.
- Cha-ching. It makes sense that if broadband companies are demanding that content providers like Skype and Netflix pay a premium for high-speed delivery, those costs will eventually be passed on to us, as consumers.
- Slooow lane. No one want to be stuck in the slow lane. Unfortunately, this proposal all but ensures that someone is going to have to deal with slow speeds.
- The haves and have-nots. Wheeler has said new FCC policies won’t “divide the Internet between haves and have-nots,” but that’s already occurring. “Comcast, which owns NBC Universal, introduced monthly data allotments for broadband customers a few years ago but exempted its own streaming video content, disadvantaging competing services like YouTube,” CNN Money explained.
According to Time, Wheeler has received an onslaught of criticism for his proposal. Just last week, more than 100 Internet companies, including Google, Amazon and Twitter, penned a letter to the FCC, imploring it to protect the openness of the Internet.
“Young, high-tech firms have represented all net new job growth in this country for the last 30 years,” wrote Julie Samuels, executive director of Engine Advocacy, the nonprofit tech policy group that organized the letter. “It is these startups that drive our economic prosperity, create jobs and improve our lives. Yet these companies stand to suffer the most when faced with uncertain, discriminatory rules that threaten the open Internet.”
In my book, any policy that favors deep-pocketed companies over the interests of people is not a good policy.