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Net Neutrality Debate is a “False Choice”

May 11, 2006 - 2 Comments

Today, I was talking to Robert Pepper, former long-time FCC’er and current Cisco colleague, and he described Net Neutrality as a “false choice.” The way the debate has currently been framed has it as an all or nothing scenario, i.e. you need to regulate or legislate or, the alternative, consumers get it in the shorts. This is just patently false. It is also too bad that some in this debate are trying to make this consumers vs. businesses. Do you really think that the big businesses who are arguing to legislate net neutrality have the best interests of consumers in mind? Sure they do…as long as it also makes them a buck. Our argument has been give to everybody access to legal appications on the internet but to allow providers to optimize the consumer experience, much like cell phone companies do. Let me ‘splain: If you only want to talk a little bit, then you only pay a little bit. If you want to talk a lot, then you pay more. If you only use your phone at certain times during the day (i.e. nights or weekends) then you can get a package that provides for that as well. In my mind, this is all providers are asking for – flexibility to give the consumers the best experience.The OTT’s (over the top providers) are saying that the government must legislate or regulate to keep providers from BLOCKING access. How many times has this actually happened you might ask. Um, that would be “What is once, Alex?” That’s right. Once. And the FCC quickly acted on this ONE misstep by a provider. Leave well enough alone…nothing is being blocked…and if something is blocked then there is already a mechanism for the FCC to act.

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  1. At the moment everyone on the internet is already paying relative to the amount of data they are sending. I have here a ADSL line for $40 a month, I can not imagine how much more Google is paying. So big users are already paying way more for their internet access.The Net Neutrality (a stupid term) is about having Net access be open (for all, so no discrimination) and free (as in speech) for a fair price. Even now there are providers which block ports (eg. 25, 80) as to force people to use their premium services. I hope this is not going to become the future standard.I don’t have to explain to you that the strength of the internet is the fact that it is a stupid network: It only moves data from the source node to destination node. Nearly all the intelligence exists at the nodes.I understand the position of a company like Cisco which would like to make the internet smarter and you most likely see only advantages for doing that. I also understand that you need to make money and there is not a whole lot of money to make from network equipment for a stupid net.However, if you are going to make the internet smarter it will affect many things. The internet will become less like the place we all love and will become a limited and restricted digital service we don’t really care about…

  2. John,There you go again talking from both sides of your mouth.Telco’s and peering providers have no interest in providing customers with the best experience. They are only looking for a new model for generating revenue. They are acting scared, like they are missing out on $$ that they don’t have control of and never should.Your comments are trying to compare the Telco’s model of voice traffic billing and service (100 year model roughly) with the one time monthly payments that customers currently pay for that unlimited content and applications on there dialup or broadband. Telco’s are very worried and know it’s just a matter of a very short time, that the stone age methods they are using to do service and billing for voice and long distance are about to become extinct. Do in-part to these many different applications (VOIP, Chat, forums etc.).Is it not better that the prices for high speed connectivity keep dropping? Even the casual e-mail user then benefits from lower pricing; they always have the option to do more (best experience) at that moment in time when they need it. Today they either get more for less as competition heats up, same monthly bill more bandwidth or lower price more bandwidth.Telco’s are just trying to figure out how to get back in the game. A game that has been slipping by them all along while the Google’s, eBay’s Amazon’s of the world has been adjusting to providing the “best experience”.I think you keep thinking that the legacy model these companies work with will be around in 2-3 years!Bill Connaghan