Net neutrality

Are all of the issues that have been raised lately concerning “net neutrality” going to be the end of the Internet as we know it today? -kerplunk

No. At the same time, I’m a strong supporter of net neutrality. (and btw i’m purposely not linking to more information about net neutrality. because i will describe the issues better than any wikipedia article can. darn, i linked)

Some background: There’s a problem with the Internet and it’s getting worse. The popularity of bandwidth-sucking services such as BitTorrent and YouTube have created enormous bandwidth congestion. (in part by my awesome videos. but i digress)

There’s another problem. How many choices do you have at home for broadband providers? One. Maybe two. Comcast? Verizon? AT&T? These are commonly referred to as “last mile” providers, because they physically connect the Internet to your house (the last mile…).

So here’s what’s happening. The last-mile providers propose to alleviate net congestion by creating a fast lane and a slow lane. If you want your site to get onto the fast lane, you’ll have to pay up. Gone is the level paying field that was the Internet — website publishers with more money will have the advantage.

But guess what, it already happens. Got a lot of money? Put a rack of servers on the east coast, and one on the west. Pay Akamai and your data will be distributed to thousands of locations so that a surfer in Timbuktu will access a server in Timbuktu. How is Google so fast? 1.8 million servers. $$$ = performance. Don’t have money? Shit outta luck.

To go one step further, last mile cable companies already have exclusive networks. It’s called cable TV. Want to have your own channel? It’ll cost you.

The sticky issue is not only the “level playing field” argument, but also that Comcast provides content in addition to controlling your broadband pipe. So they’ll have an (arguably) unfair advantage when they go and create new websites and Internet services.

As Internet entrepreneur, I need a level playing field, and I don’t want big companies, whether Comcast, or something like General Motors, to have a built-in advantage over me just because they have more money.

That said, they already do. Hence my original statement — it sucks, but that’s life, and it just makes you work harder.

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