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.

eBay seeks a better deal for itself than for its users

I'll be interested to learn how many eBay users see through the self-serving call to action letter they received yesterday from eBay CEO Meg Whitman. eBay users are very savvy business people, and if they read the letter carefully, they will see that eBay is asking to get a better bandwidth deal for itself than its users get.

If eBay didn't live in the rarified air of 82% gross profit margins and the Internet giant elites, and if eBay truly looked at the world through its earthbound users' eyes, it would see that eBay users have long toiled away in the "two-tiered" Internet world that they look upon with such disdain. eBay should know that its users have long had the competitive choice of using the slow-lane, "dirt road" of dial-up (still used by ~35 million American households), and the faster lanes of different types of broadband (now used by over 37 million American

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.

ItsOurNet.org: The boy who cried wolf

ItsOurNet.org continues the well-established net neutrality pattern of crying “wolf" in hopes of scaring people into running to their rescue on net neutrality. They obviously think people are stupid and won’t remember what they say. Just like the proverbial boy who cried wolf learned the hard way, if people can’t trust that your cries for help are true, they won’t believe you when you do tell the truth. People aren’t stupid and they do remember. The e-commerce giants’ latest crying-wolf, with absolutely no evidence to support it, is shameless: implying that Moms won’t be able to protect their families; e-mail users won’t be able to keep in touch with family and friends, small businesses won’t be able to survive online, and churches won’t be able to get their messages out to congregants.

Itswhosenet? Itsournet.org's Freudian Slip?

We welcome the ecommerce giants: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and IAC in coming out of the shadows and publicly sponsoring a new website -- tellingly-named “itsournet.org" -- to debate the merits of net neutrality legislation. However, we are a little puzzled by the name choice of “itsournet.org." Until now no one was bold enough to claim “ownership" of the Internet. Was this just a Freudian slip by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, whose 80-90% gross profit margins make them feel like they really do “own" the Internet so to speak? A better name choice might have been “itseverybodysnet.org," which would come across a little more inclusive, “democratic" and a little less covetous.

Why the Internet doesn't need saving

Net neutrality fear-mongering aside, the Internet doesn’t need new net neutrality regulation to survive or thrive. The Internet is healthy and flourishing on its own. The Internet is no baby anymore that needs a government nanny for its protection and sustenance. The Internet is all grown up and fully capable of taking care of itself.

It’s important to remember the many natural and powerful defenses the Internet has developed to protect itself -- that do not depend on net neutrality.

First and foremost, the Internet is the only universally-accepted and ubiquitously-deployed communications technology on the planet; this affords the Internet extraordinary importance, influence and independence.

    Pages