Friday, December 3, 2010

Government Regulation of Net Neutrality Can’t be Good

Net Neutrality Regulation
John R. Houk
© December 3, 2010

The concept of Net Neutrality at face value is something that any Internet addict as I am would embrace as the last frontier of freedom in the 21st century.

The difficulty I have run into recently is that there appears to be a huge chunk of deception around the term “Net Neutrality”. There are the people that say Net Neutrality is an unregulated Internet free of government tentacles governed by the principles of Free Market competition. The idea of Free Market competition would be that Internet Service Providers (ISP) will charge based on the concept of supply and demand. The supply would be the Internet and the demand would be the consumers wanting availability to the Internet. In the days when the demand was smaller there was not a lot of options in creating markets to create diverse kinds of demand. Because of this the Internet has been neutral treating all users with equal access. The only market creation dial-up and broadband access to the Internet. Dial-up is typically slower and broadband is typically faster. The greater the demand for faster broadband became the first hurdle of ISPs to raise the price in a static market available to all.

At broadband’s first arrival its cost was a bit more than most consumers were willing to pay. However, the problems inherent in dial-up were more than just a slower speed. Dial-up encounter situations in which connections were dropped from the increasing growth of users on a dial-up line. Users were getting bumped from their connection because of the number of people online. As music and movie downloads became more popular (Does anyone remember Napster freedom?) it was discovered that slow dial-up was inadequate for downloading. Something might take a half-hour, an hour or hours to download. In some cases the download was interrupted by the evil of being bumped off line.

Demand then became greater for broadband. The increasing popularity of broadband made it affordable to many relegating dial-up to dirt cheap as the dial-up became less and less in demand. Then other market possibilities were developed by ISPs. High speed Internet began to be divided into slower high speed to faster high speed brackets. ISPs began to exclude competitors from what might take away from money making projects personal to an individual ISP.

This kind of market creation is the very thing that has made the term Net Neutrality a stinker.

The Obama Administration and BHO’s appointed Chairman of the FCC Julius Genachowski believe that the Internet should be regulated to keep Net Neutrality. Is government regulation good for Internet Net Neutrality? The best neutral analysis I have read about Genachowski’s Net Neutrality rules he wishes to implement have pluses and minuses:

Today, the FCC's chairman will deliver a speech essentially outlining the agency's stance on net neutrality—and making an exciting push in its favor. The news isn't entirely positive though—net neutrality might be preserved, but it'll be expensive.

FCC chief Julius Genachowski plans to back new government rules that would prohibit your ISP from blocking legal content. That means that Comcast, for example, couldn't block Netflix, in an attempt to bolster its own streaming video offerings. The Washington Post is also reporting that Genachowski's proposal would block Comcast from even slowing down Netflix. So, basically, these are the prime tenets of net neutrality. So this is good news! No anti-competitive behavior from ISPs.


In what appears to be a pretty major concession to the companies carrying your data, Genachowski's speech will give the thumbs up to tiered internet service, establishing cheap-o plans for those leaning most on email and other data-light activities—and potentially gouging bandwidth-hungry users. Under this rule, ISPs would be able to restructure their business along the lines of cell carriers—buy more to get more.

Interestingly (and to some, disappointingly), the FCC has chosen not to throw down and impose its sole authority to regulate the internet by reclassifying its legal status as something similar to telephone lines. It's a weaker approach—surely one easier to swallow for the ISPs—and one that'll open up the push to attacks from courts and an anti-regulatory lawmakers.

As well, Genachowski will support separate, non-public internet channels—what many feared would become "second internets"—but says they must be justified to the FCC and shown to not undermine the real internet.

For wireless broadband—the frontier of the speedy net—things are a bit murkier. Genachowski says there are "differences between fixed and mobile broadband," and will "address anticompetitive or anticonsumer behavior as appropriate." Whatever "differences" and "as appropriate" means remains to be seen, although he's still promising a basic ban against wireless broadband providers blocking rival content entirely. But weasel terms in policy making are never good news.

The neutral analysis seems to point out that FCC regulation is not so neutral for the Internet. The “preserved by expensive” explanation should be read more like, ‘preserved with some qualifications and expensive.’

Biddle’s explanation of preserved is that an ISP will be prohibited from blocking content from a rival ISP or a rival ISP’s subsidiary. However, data equality comes with broadband impositions of tiers that relate to how slow or how fast data is streamed to your connection. It sounds a bit like a compromise of equal access for Internet users but the users have to pay more for faster data such as data downloads or perhaps gaming. From a market stand point that really doesn’t bug me since I am a Net surfer for information more than downloading data or a data streams. I can see how gamers or those dependent on Entertainment downloads such as movies might be a bit disgruntled with institutionalizing higher priced tiers to effectively acquire the desired result.

My greatest concern with Government regulation of the Internet is the end of real Net Neutrality. Leftists and Democrats have been trying for a decade to end Conservative editorializing via Conservative blogging and Conservative Internet News. The Left has a near stranglehold on the Mainstream Media (MSM) of the traditional sort: Newspapers and Television. The Left realizes that Conservative resistance on the Internet has become a major cog in exposing Left Wing transformation that alters American society from its Christian/Founding Father roots by chipping away at the Original Intent of the U.S. Constitution. Silencing the Right greatly slows down the Left Wing agenda of making Biblical Christianity irrelevant and making the State the focal point of every American citizen’s life rather than allowing individuals to be involved in the decisions of their life.

The irony for me is that it seems that the Left is the prime mover against Government regulation within the concept of Net Neutrality.

Here are a couple Net Neutrality articles that I sense express my concerns of the entrance of Government regulation into the Internet: EDITORIAL: Wave goodbye to Internet freedom and "Fake Net Neutrality" Scheme Threatens Internet Freedom.

JRH 12/3/10

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