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Net Neutrality

Increasing competition and innovation online make Network Neutrality regulation obsolete

Early on in Internet history, when there was little competition and technological innovation, network neutrality was a necessary regulation against monopolies.

However, in 1993, Congress passed a law that network neutrality was unnecessary for competitive wireless.

Then, the 1996, the Telecom Act promoted competition and de-regulation, setting up the phase-out of net neutrality regulations and real competition emerged. That’s why net neutrality was never imposed on cable modems and why the FCC decided August 2005 to phase out net neutrality for DSL.

Regulating Net Neutrality Would Destroy the Internet’s Essence: A Mutual Self-Interest to Cooperate

Net neutrality proponents don’t realize that forcing a non-consensus design principle on all the private networks that comprise the Internet could rip apart the consensus-of-self-interest and cooperation that keeps the Internet universally-accepted today.

Net neutrality could “kill the proverbial goose that laid the golden egg.”

Government coercion did not make the Internet what it is today. Free and open mutual-self-interest and industry cooperation created today’s Internet. The proposed network neutrality regulation would endanger this successful system.

Net neutrality: shaking the election-year money tree

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the net neutrality movement is not about policy substance, reality, or building a political consensus, but simply election-year opportunism.

The net neutrality fear-mongering and woeful lack of policy substance belie that the soul of the net neutrality movement is really about generating on-line political donations for the mid-term elections and the 2008 presidential election.
What better way is there to cheaply agitate potential online donors than sending them lots of free scary emails that the Internet is about to be ruined and that there are greedy lobbyists in Washington that want to make the Internet only for the rich.

Net Neutrality is not a universal operating “principle" of the Internet today

Unlike the universally-accepted consensus standards discussed in my earlier blog post Myth: The Internet Is Public Property, it is obvious from the extreme controversy that net neutrality is neither a universally-accepted nor consensus Internet practice.

For example, the ~20 million American cable broadband users have never had network neutrality; and ~200 million American cell phone users also have managed just fine without network neutrality.

Far from a consensus “principle,” net neutrality is a highly-contentious political clash over network design theory and preference, where “edge” Internet companies like Google, Amazon, and eBay are trying to get the government to permanently impose their end-to end network design on competitive “network” Internet companies.

And if you listen to the FCC Chairman's latest comments on the issue, it appears that he agrees:

"Consumers need to be able to access all the content that’s available over the Internet without being impeded by the access provider. But at the same time, we recognized that the people that are deploying these networks may offer differentiated speeds and differentiated products to the consumer. … And if you offer different tiers of speeds, a consumer chooses the lowest tier, and he wants to access content that would require higher speeds than he has purchased, he’s not being blocked from access. He just hasn’t purchased the speed that’s necessary."



Coalition urges Conservatives to vote "No" on Network Neutrality Regulations

Encouraging news yesterday in the net neutrality debate. The Internet Freedom Coalition, a group of free-market conservative organizations, called on House Republicans to reject proposed net neutrality regulations. As Jason Wright, president of the Institute for Liberty points out, “In today’s climate, you don’t often see such agreement among free-market conservatives.”

“Net neutrality would be the first step down the dangerous path of Internet regulation” said Tom Readmond, executive director of Americans for Tax Reform’s Media Freedom Project.

Net Neutrality Podcast with George Gilder

Scott Cleland from NETCompetition joins George Gilder for a podcast discussion. Topics include innovation, net neutrality, and what's next......

To listen, click on the play button below, or download the podcast to take it with you.

Myth: The Internet is Public Property

Reality: The Internet is a network of private networks enabled by many universally-accepted, consensus standards. No single entity can control or change these standards. Network neutrality is not required to protect today’s Internet.

Essential Internet Standards:

  • Internet Transmission Protocol (IP) is universally-accepted and enables all types of communications technologies to fully inter-operate and function as one network;
  • Domain Name Systems (DNS) administered by ICANN, an international non-profit corporation, provides a universally-accepted address system for Internet devices; and 
  • World Wide Web (www) is a universally-accepted standard that makes text, graphics, sound and animation on HTTP Internet servers accessible to Internet users with a point and a click.

All these private networks have freely and openly accepted these universal Internet standards, because it is in their economic self-interest to do so and in the interests of tier users, not because it is required.

Don’t shoot the messenger because you don’t like the message

Several bloggers have greeted my recent entry into the net neutrality debate with less than flattering portrayals. Examples include: Digital Destiny, NSP Strategist, and Dana Blankenhorn. The common thread reads that anyone associated with communications companies must be bad, wrong, or have nothing worthy to say. Ouch!

If you are reading this and support net neutrality, I thank you for your open-mindedness. For those of you opposed to my position, I believe net neutrality should be debated on the merits not shaped by personal attacks and false assumptions. Let me explain.

Net Neutrality Debated on NPR

I spoke about net neutrality this morning on the NPR program On Point. While I had hoped for a more balanced debate, I was able to make a solid argument for letting competition, not government, continue to shape the Internet and encourage online innovation. I was also able to briefly mention how network neutrality legislation is actually corporate welfare for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay and others. Right now, there are a lot of people out there trying to scare people into supporting net neutrality. The fear-mongering about censored content, degraded Internet, etc.