Net Neutrality: Why We Support It
Net Neutrality: Why We Support It
Earlier this week, Egypt’s government shut down Internet access through the country. This event has revived the topic of Net Neutrality; a topic of heated debate over the past 5 years. The subject has been heavily reported, but in case you weren’t been paying attention, we chose this topic as our featured content this month. At Alt Creative, we believe this is a topic that everyone should be talking about, not just those of us in the technology field.
What is Net Neutrality?
Network Neutrality (or net neutrality) is the concept that the Internet should be free of restrictions by government or corporations. By operating as the Open Internet, all content is publicly accessible to anyone and all traffic is treated the same by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
So what’s the big deal? Isn’t the Internet already operating this way? The debate is over the assumption of whether or not governments and telecommunications companies have the ability and legality to make restrictions on the type of content that reaches our homes. Net Neutrality proponents are worried that if this ability exists, that ISPs could begin using a tiered pricing model based on content – much like Cable providers do. Click here to see a wonderful illustration of what the Internet might look like without Net Neutrality. Governments and telecommunications companies do have this ability, which has been somewhat confirmed by the recent Internet blackout in Egypt.
In 2005, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its Broadband Policy Statement (also known as the Internet Policy Statement), which lists four principles of open Internet, “To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to:”
• access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
• run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
• connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
• competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
So it sounds like our government supports Net Neutrality, right? So far, yes. But, opponents to Net Neutrality are big money corporations with a lot of lobbying experience. These corporations include the top 5 broadband Internet service providers —Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, Comcast, and Qwest Communications.
Why would anyone oppose Net Neutrality?
Prioritization of bandwidth for innovation and investment
– Some opponents believe that corporations should be free to offer faster data transfer to customers who have paid them more money. They argue that Net Neutrality decreases their ability to recoup the costs that they have invested in their broadband networks.
Bandwidth availability – It’s no secret that Internet traffic is increasing exponentially. Sites like YouTube, Hulu, and many cloud sites are constantly providing high-bandwidth services. Opponents argue that Net Neutrality would make it so that the speed of growth of the bandwidth needs would eventually outgrow the speed in which broadband networks can be built.
The less legislation the better – Many people believe that the only way to keep the Internet open is to not put any legislation in place at all. They believe the only way to avoid censorship like the FCC puts on television, is to not let the FCC control the Internet in the first place.
Why support Net Neutrality?
Data Control & Digital Rights
– Proponents of Net Neutrality argue that legislation is necessary to ensure that the telecommunication companies don’t become the controlling entity that decides who gets what content and how quickly they get it. In the words of Google’s Vinton Cerf, “Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success.”
Competition & Innovation – Think about this for a moment… Let’s say you are a Time Warner Internet customer and they just raised their prices. You want to check out your options, but when you navigate your browser to the AT&T Internet page, it’s blocked. This potential to knock out the competition undermines the free marketplace principles that our country was founded on. Most proponents believe that any profits made on the tiered model will go to line the pockets of CEOs rather than leading to the building of more broadband networks.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – The Internet in its open form has contributed to many innovative and technological breakthroughs over the past 20 years. Proponents of Net Neutrality argue that restrictions on content will slow future breakthroughs.
Why we support it
We believe a free and open Internet is necessary for:
• innovation & opportunity
• competition & fair pricing for small businesses and individuals
• freedom to exchange information, which is a staple of our democracy