I learned recently that net neutrality is not the simple, black and white issue I think it is. It turns out there are some sound, reasonable arguments to be made for why broadband providers should be allowed to negotiate additional fees from certain sites or services.
In the end, though, I remain unconvinced. Whether its throttling undesirable content, or giving priority access for a fee to other content, the result is a divided Internet. Despite any logical or altruistic arguments, the fact is that it is a slippery slope and once we start down that path we won’t like the results.
Here is some of what I wrote for Forbes on this issue:
Perhaps “net neutrality” isn’t all that neutral. Building a broadband infrastructure capable of meeting consumer demands costs money. In the absence of a way for broadband providers to charge some sort of fees or tolls to certain companies, the alternative is that the costs are passed on to everyone. Is it fair that someone who doesn’t even subscribe to or use Netflixshould pay more for broadband in order to support it?
This was essentially the argument posed to me earlier this week. Before the net neutrality issue raged out of control in the wake of Thursday’s FCC vote, I had asked a table of media peers in the press room at MicrosoftTechEd 2014what their thoughts were on the topic. Peter Bright—a fellow Houstonian and writer for Ars Technica—expressed concerns that prohibiting broadband providers from cutting deals with service like Netflix to fund the infrastructure and network improvements necessary to deliver adequate service for their content would result in higher prices for everyone whether they use those services or not.
Utopian net neutrality
My naïve, idealistic view on net neutrality is that I am already paying my broadband provider for that data pipeline from my home to the Internet. My provider offers a few different tiers—or speeds—of Internet service, so I choose the one that makes sense for my household and that’s the end of it. It is none of the broadband provider’s business how I choose to use the pipeline, or which sites or services I stream content from over the pipeline, and the broadband provider shouldn’t be allowed to go extort additional money from those sites or services for the privilege of delivering that content to me…
Read the complete article at Forbes: Is Net Neutrality A Bad Idea?