What We Don’t Know: Net Neutrality

There was some national news yesterday that reported the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) passed rules/regulations for net neutrality. So while my Spidey-Sense is not tingling, FYI I am very interested in technology. I don’t feel like it is something that I have to try really hard to understand (at my level). So when the news dropped about net neutrality I (being the geek that I am) was interested, surprised and overall pleased with the outcome.

The basics of net neutrality basically state that all internet traffic and content should all be treated the same; hence the name net neutrality. This conversation started a couple of years ago and there was a bunch of stuff happening that brought more attention to the issue. Basically the government tried to say play fair,  but service providers like Verizon said, ‘It’s my ball, you’ll play with it the way I want you to.’ Verizon then made Netflix pay more money in order for the service to be used without a hitch.

For a very good definition of net neutrality let’s turn to Fox:

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet providers should treat all traffic on their networks equally. That means companies such as Comcast Corp (CMCSA) or Verizon Communications Inc (VZ) would be barred from blocking or slowing access to any website or content on the web, for instance to benefit their own services over those of competitors.

Fox News J . This will become very ironic later on.

One of the things that I find interesting in this “great” country of ours is how much we pay for internet compared to other countries. Broadband (~25Mbps) in DC which costs about $70 a month compared to it being almost a $100 a month San Francisco. Speeds of 45Mbps in the US on an average cost almost $90, but in South Korea (where they have been ranked number 1 for like I don’t know how many years) speeds of 100Mbps cost less than $20 a month o_O That’s crazy!!! Even Japan which has some providers offering the same service as the US only charges about $30 a month. I currently pay about $90 for 45Mbps, but then came Google which offers 1000Mbps (1Gbps) for $70 in some parts of the country. The good folks at Comcast and AT&T own so much of the telecom access, Google cannot make it to every city because they are muscled out (with fees) to access the telecom. These practices are with the ruling should be doing away with. They were allowed because internet service was not regulated, it was considered an information service and now a utility.

Now if you listen to the folks over at Fox, the same ones who gave such an amazing definition of net neutrality, they would have you believe that:

Make no mistake. The greatest tool for freedom of expression to come along in our lifetime is in danger. One cannot have genuine freedom of expression with a government monitor, an overseer, a censor prepared to immediately shut down any “threats” to the state. This is Orwellian, even if even opponents are reluctant to say it. But they must remember that the greatest miscalculations in history are those that underrate the determination of the power hungry to grab even more power.

Fox news

cjones11112014Not surprisingly, Fox’s view is also the view of conservative republicans. Interesting that this ruling which makes the Internet “open and fair” could be seen as something that is a “threat” to “freedom”. I do see it as being a threat to people who make money (Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, etc) from the system not being fair. Without this ruling blog posts could see speeds slow down so it takes longer for a page to load than a page like Yahoo, which could pay for stability and a faster loading time. The ruling will additionally do the following:

“ban blocking, ban throttling, and ban paid-prioritization fast lanes,” adding that “for the first time, open Internet rules will be fully applicable to mobile.”

So all in all, for little folks like us this is great news. What it should mean is the internet will continue to operate as we know it; innovative and growing. It also should mean more diversity in service providers and hopefully mean more competition leading to better pricing. The moral of the story…. Faster downloads for me!!!!!!

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