Bone of Contention: Net Neutrality – Not Just for Dolphins Anymore

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Bone of Contention

This might be tough to be, damn near literally, the Devil’s advocate:

Everybody loves the internet. The cats, the games, YouTube, Neflix, anything you ever wanted to know or see at your fingertips. Truly, one of the great inventions of our era. Instantaneous communication is now possible. Many people in the workforce can enjoy more time at home with their families by telecommuting, a word the previous generation would have had no use for. Education has been revolutionized, granting students constant connection to their courses, workload, and instructors at all levels of education. The internet is now an ingrained part of human society worldwide, made all the more prevalent by the more recent advent of smartphones, connecting people to the internet regardless of their geographic location.

What no one stops to think about is how you access this internet, and what the exponentially increasing number of internet users. affects those that supply the internet to you. Yes, its a great and noble thing to believe all internet users and use are the same. But from the standpoint of those that grant access to internet through the use of their hardware, satellites, networks, etc. all internet users are not created equal. If a customer paying for access the internet uses 4 GB of data in a billing period and a different customer uses 400GB, should a provider not have the ability to charge these two customers differently? The strain on the resources provided by that company are not equal, so why should they be charged the same amount? Speed is already charged on a tiered system, and data consumption should follow a similar model: If you want more, you pay more.

And if you turn the argument for a more business to business approach, which is probably more at the core of the Net Neutrality to be put before the FCC in a month, the same logic applies: A site like YouTube, or Netflix, or Hulu that eat up petabyte after petabyte of an ISPs network bandwidth, do those particular sites deserve to be treated the same as sites that, when piled together, add up to a fraction of their use?

Not all users and websites are equal. They put different amounts of strain on an ISPs network, and in order to maintain profitability and control of their networks a tiered system is necessary. At a restaurant, if someone orders steak, they don’t pay the same as someone who orders fish. When someone uses a shipping service, like UPS or FedEx, a customer that sends out 1,000 packages pays more than one that ships out 10. Internet usage is no different than any other service industry in this country, where customers or entities that consume more are charged more. The way we interact with the internet has evolved drastically in the last five years, and the way ISPs provide the service must evolve as well.

-That made me feel…dirty. It was an interesting exercise in seeing the other side of an issue that I find to be a painfully obvious decision. And it did kind of make me see it from the other side’s perspective. It rolls back into the old rage against the machine argument: 99% of people want something one way, 1% don’t. But that 1% has 80% of the power, so guess what happens? Sadly I think we’ll see some form of tiered system pushed through in some incarnation at some point. We’ll all find out next month.