Thursday, May 15, 2014

On the end of Net Neutrality

The FCC today voted to implement rules that will allow ISPs to discriminate against traffic that doesn't enhance their bottom line.

This means that AT&T, Comcast and yes, even WoW! will be able to set up Internet fast lanes for "revenue enhancing" customers at the expense of other services.

This is a huge change in how the Internet has historically worked.  It means a shift from an Internet where anyone can set up a website or service to an Internet where only "major players" will be able to create and deploy new and novel websites and applications.

It means the Internet "free and open" model will move toward the "closed and exclusive" model we see in Cable TV.  Companies that provide services that compete with cable (like Netflix for example) will be forced to pay Cable TV companies a toll in order to move their content. 

Where will the fee come from?  Your pocket.

Lets say you subscribe to Comcast for example.  You pay Comcast to bring you Internet traffic from everyone on the Internet.  Lets say you subscribe to Netflix too.  Well then part of your Netflix bill will be used to pay Comcast to provide Internet traffic to you.

So Comcast gets paid twice.  Once by you directly, and once indirectly through your Netflix bill.

If a company is trying to start a service that competes with Netflix, they will have to negotiate passage with Comcast first, then they will need to advertise and compete for customers, then they will have to negotiate with content owners (a major content owner is Comcast by the way).  A very tall order and one of the reasons why over the top (OTT) television is not available here in the United States.

We here at Wicked Broadband oppose this change.  It will be bad for consumers, bad for the Internet and ultimately bad for American innovation.  The growth of Information Technology companies like Google, Amazon, Facebook and others has been a ray of light in a world where traditional American manufacturers are shrinking.  This change will all but ensure that future innovation on the web takes place outside of the USA.

I'd like to encourage you to contact the FCC and let them know that you oppose this rule change.  As long as you are paying your ISP for Internet service, all of that traffic should be treated the same.

You can comment by filling out this form.  The proceeding number is 14-28: FCC Comment Form