On April 6th, the Federal Court of Appeals handed down a 36-page ruling on one of the first test cases of net neutrality. They ruled in favor of Comcast who was fighting against an earlier ruling by the FCC that Comcast was not allowed to throttle Internet usage.
About the ruling Comcast said:
“We have always been focused on serving our customers and delivering the quality open-Internet experience consumers want,” the company said.
Anyone that has been a customer of Comcast knows that line is pure bullshit.
This ruling by the Federal Court of Appeals sets in motion a dangerous precedent whereby no consumer protections are now in place. So why does anyone think this is a good thing? Chalk it up to the nice propaganda campaign waged by the talking-heads of radio and television.
A recent editorial in the Las-Vegas Review Journal spells out the mentality of those against net neutrality. It’s almost a point for point delivery of the screed pumped out by Glen Beck, Limbaugh and Hannity.
The summary of the editorial is A) It’s a government power grab, B) ISPs have been improving customer service, options, and service on their own, C) 98% of the people in this country already have at least three wired options and six wireless options, D) net neutrality stifles innovation and investment.
It’s hard to get things 100% wrong, but this editorial wins.
Let’s take a look at the facts of net neutrality.
First, net neutrality is an attempt to keep anyone, including government, from assuming control of the internet for purposes of selectively throttling one company’s content over another’s.
Second, some ISPs have been improving speeds in some markets. Overall, there are very few markets with quality broadband – and nothing compared to what you find in many other countries. The US is one of the wost in broadband speed, access, and cost.
Third, I’d love to know where the AT&T rep that was quoted in the editorial came up with this magical 98% number. I disbelieve. Because of the exclusivity agreements most municipalities have signed with companies like Comcast, you are lucky to have one option for broadband internet access. Wireless options are still in their infancy, and only in huge metropolitan areas. I personally have one option, Verizon DSL. That’s it, nothing else. And that’s only at 3.1Mbps speed. Moreover, I’m one of the few in the neighborhood that can actually almost hit those speeds.
Fourth, the internet is the awesome, innovative, artistic, knowledge-filled, and ridiculous troll-tastic place that it is because companies have not been allowed to selectively throttle packets. The sheer amount of applications, protocols, services and innovations are in spite of the crappy, uncaring service the big ISPs provide.
What really takes the cake, however, is the fact that everyone already pays their share. The terrabytes of videos sent out over YouTube? Google pays for that on their end and you pay for it on yours. Online video games? The same. iTunes music downloads? The same. Each company has to purchase that bandwidth so you can reach their servers. You pay a monthly fee to get online as well.
Khan has nothing to do with this, but screaming his name loudly is cathartic.
What the opponents of net neutrality propose is that ISPs now force you to pay an additional fee on top of all of that based on their arbitrary terms decided on whether somebody else might be offering a competitive service to their own.
And this all wouldn’t be quite so maddening if the big ISPs hadn’t already been given billions of dollars by the government in the 1990′s to build out their infrastructure in the first place. You see, we’ve already paid for all this. Moreover, what we paid for – high quality, fast broadband connections – most don’t have and will never see.
It’s enough to make you scream.
And this is why we can’t have anything good. We’re surrounded by stupid people writing editorials about topics they know jack shit about, parroting talking points from slimy but clever talk show hosts.
And they believe every word they’re fed.