Internet fast lane? Toll roads, you mean.13 May 2014
You may have heard some of the recent debate on net neutrality. If you haven't, here's a quick review.
Some have been referring to it as the internet fast lane, others, the slow lane: I'm of the opinion that internet toll roads is a hint more precise. The fact of the matter is, most of the arguments against net neutrality are originating from extremely biased sources. Those very companies that argue against it tend to have two things: An invested interest in television or telephone service.
Those two items are extremely critical in the net neutrality debate. Most of our communications, telephone or otherwise, now travel via the internet. Public utility companies that offer these services, say, AT&T; for example, do not send your communications via the airwaves until their destination. Instead, your communications reach the tower, and, at that point are (more than likely) sent across the internet.
Television companies are similar, in that they too wield the internet heavily for their content.
Now, why are either of these two points critical? The internet gives new players (Say, Netflix, voice over IP services, or, whatever's next) a direct method of competing with these older television and telephone companies. In addition, if those same public utilities companies are making heavy usage of the internet for their infrastructure, shouldn't we have that same benefit as a society? I'd like to think so, considering much public money went into funding those same very networks.
Sadly, we're now at a point where the old monopolies involved are being given a legal avenue in which they can stifle competition and retain control of their massive marketshares for the foreseeable future: Afterall, why would they be lobbying for it so heavily, for the good of their customers? What's next -- a youtube or skype tax? Absolutely.
Here's why I think giving anyone the ability to implement internet toll roads is bad:
Stifling competition: It's 2014, and, just about everything is internet based. Digital advertising just surpassed advertising on broadcast TV.
Giving anyone the ability to directly tax their new fledgling competitors is unwise. It stifles competition, in addition to impeding innovation. That's not what America (or, any nation, for that matter) should be about.
The internet has become such a prolific aspect of our lives that adding any impediment, economic or otherwise, would sadly contribute to reducing our ability to compete on a global scale. My job, amongst many others, could be done from anywhere.
Ultimately, we as adults, have an obligation to the next generation to lay the stepping stones for their innovation and future. Let's make internet a public utility & resource, even if it's so we can avoid this:
Footnote: If you're looking for a great example of what we should be doing, look towards EPB & Chattanooga. The local power company took a small federal grant, in addition to their own funds and there's now gigabit to almost every home in the county through the power lines. There's no reason your city shouldn't also be a gig city.