It seems popular to have a view about net neutrality, so I thought I might as well throw my feelings into the melting pot, not that I think that they are going to make any difference at all ...
As I see it the Internet is growing at a phenomenal rate as is the amount of data that we The bottom line is that more content than ever is being pushed through the Internet, and eventually someone has to pay for itwant to push through the system. People think this data is just simple text and images on websites, but it’s high-definition audio and video that sucks up the most bandwidth.
The problem as I see it is that the Internet is already multi-tiered, not in terms of access to the "last mile" to your house, but in terms of the volume of content transported over the Internet. At one end of the scale you have Joe Bloggs with his hobby website pulling in a handful of visitors a month, and at the other you have big corporations with billionaires behind them who want to fire hose everyone with masses of content. They're both content providers. The more I look at the arguments for keeping the neutrality status quo, the more I feel the dark influence of these small number of Dot Com billionaires. The issue of whether the biggest bandwidth users should pay more has been turned into a public interest debate all mixed up with the idea of censorship, and it is ultimately hiding the real fact that these Dot Com billionaires want everyone else to foot the bill. Their business models are based on the Internet as it is, and that makes them allergic to any change that could affect the bottom line.
Also, let's examine one of the keystones of the net neutrality argument, which Vinton Cerf, Google's [Updated: July 12, 2006 @ 3:23 am] Vice President and "Chief Internet Evangelist", summed up as follows:
"allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success."
Hmmm. Those are emotive words and they stir up a lot of feeling, but I just don't buy it. Even if some carriers did block the biggest bandwidth users, market forces would quickly sort sort things out. After all, the people at the end of that "last mile" are still the customers and I don't think there are enough people willing to accept a cut-down Internet to make it a viable market.
The bottom line is that more content than ever is being pushed through the Internet, and eventually someone has to pay for it. The real danger is that if enough people start believing the kind of hyperbole being spouted by Cerf, then Joe Public will soon be convinced it'd be a good idea to chip in a few extra bucks each month to cover the cost, all in the name of freedom. And the rich get richer ...