This past Sunday was certainly an eventful one for HBO. Game of Thrones nearly matched the shock of the infamous Red Wedding and John Oliver crashed the Federal Communications Commission. On May 15th, the FCC opened a period of public comment regarding it’s stance on “Net Neutrality”. What is Net Neutrality, you ask? I’ll let John Oliver explain. This was the segment that crashed the FCC’s website.
For those at work or those that don’t have 13 minutes to watch a segment about Net Neutrality, it’s fairly simple. The internet companies like Time-Warner Cable, Comcast and Verizon want to have different ways to access the internet, a fast lane and an “everything else” lane. Sounds great, right? Except that you probably won’t get to decide which lane you take – the sites you visit will. Netflix, Google and Facebook can afford to pay for preferential treatment for the best bandwidth to their site. Your blog about boutique barbecue sauce won’t be so lucky.
Another portion of this problem involves becoming a “common carrier”. This basically means that the current preferential treatment internet service companies receive will disappear – they’ll become utilities like a land-line telephones. Very few industries see as little competition as the ISP’s do. If you have Time-Warner Cable, it’s because a guy from TWC came out to your subdivision at some point and laid cable under your home. Making the ISP’s a common carrier would allow other, smaller companies to license that cable under your house and offer different (possibly cheaper) service than TWC would. Competition is always better.
Lastly we discuss the role of wireless carriers in all this. While it’s true that congestion is a larger problem for wireless (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint) internet, it doesn’t mean they get to decide which packets of information get through.
There are much more exhaustive pieces on these issues, but I wrote this to get the word out. Everyone reading this has access to the internet and will therefore be affected by this decision. Take part in your civic rights by participating in this discussion. You can submit your thoughts here or simply email them to this address: email@example.com.
If you have trouble articulating your thoughts, feel free to use what I wrote:
The following are my comments on the three main parts of this proceeding:
Based on the fact that the major ISP’s have continued to innovate in other areas, their argument that becoming a common carrier would be prohibitive is a fallacy.
I believe they should become a common carrier due to the fact that internet access is just as integral (if not more so) to our daily lives than land line telephone service.
Any legislation that would disrupt a truly free and open internet, such as creating an internet “fast lane” would only create a greater division between the established websites and companies that can afford to pay for preferential treatment and the new innovative start-ups that cannot. While this may help to line the pockets of the telecommunication companies, it is firmly against the will of the people.
Lastly, there should no distinction between land-line and wireless carriers. In an ever increasing mobile world we run the risk of allowing mobile carriers to be subsidized by websites and organizations at the exclusion of the rest of the internet.
Thank you very much,