Well, let’s clearly state up front that if we do not have net neutrality in place that it is “Kinda Like Discrimination!” If there is inequality in how individuals and firms use the ‘Net, there will be discriminatory impacts as a result.
Also, this paper is not focused on entertainment value of the ‘Net but the power of the educational component of using the ‘Net and improving individual lives.
Now, let’s also be clear, corporations and companies should make a profit, there is no doubt about that. But when the profits come in the form of gains due to people here and there and companies here and there having to pay for a faster speed to get a leg up on their competitors, well, that could be problematic.
In the first place, aren’t the major (and minor) ISPs, Telco’s and exchanges (LECs/IXC’s), supposed to be improving their communication pipes with their own investments (culled from the profits made off of customers) in order to attract and retain current and future customers?
If lower income people around the world do not have a fair and equitable manner of accessing the ‘Net, in comparison to the more wealthier middle/upper income earners – these lower income folks cannot play ball at the same level. The less fortunate will either have to make trips to the local library or suffer from a much slower ‘Net.
Who wants to suffer in watching an hour-glass or spinning wheel on the PCs’ monitor? Who wants to wait for a connection that might well die and disconnect and reconnect and start all over again for what was originally wanted.
If you have a student in your home and they are watching an educational video, the value of that learning time plummets when the learner/viewer cannot have a solid, good and fast connection. The learning is drastically disrupted due to the vagaries of having to deal with the many network errors (sync errors, drops, slowness, etc.). And many, many of us have put up those kinds of problems in the early days of BBSs’ and the early years of the ‘Net. NONE of us enjoyed that at all.
We, the global citizens of the world, have put up far too many forms of discrimination in our time on earth. And whether you count time on earth in BC/AD or BCE/CE, it does not matter, we have seen discrimination in its many forms for centuries and many of which are still here today (sadly and pathetically so).
Do we need yet another form of discrimination? Should major ISPs, telcos, LECs and IXCs have the power to dictate pricing on the ‘Nets of the world, the U.S. at any rate and make those who cannot afford it, scrimp, beg and borrow money to pay for equal access to the ‘Net?
As it stands, there are many jurisdictions in the U.S. where any new company AND even the local municipality are banned from competing with the major broadband. This ban is due to those major telcos and their lobbyists spending gobs of money and getting laws enacted to end up in the favor of the telco/broadband carrier.
It also does not hurt these major providers – ISPs & Telcos – have congressional representation (i.e. Blackburn – see the references below) aiding them in blocking municipalities from competing, it is all well and good for the major providers but not so good for the rest of the country.
How can this be fair? Sure, again, all companies should make a profit. But when companies lobby to get other companies/municipalities banned from competing that just paints an unflattering picture for those major providers as bad corporate citizens.
Why wouldn’t these major providers allow competition? Is it to retain monopoly and duopoly control on a vital service? Profit, well, yeah….
When municipalities are blocked from building their own fast networks in their own cities/towns that flat out kills the spirit of competition. These municipalities have the interests of their constituents at heart and want to do better for them and by them.
But as long as the courts and some certain members of congress continue to allow major providers to have their way in controlling the communication pipes of the country and stifling competition, we will continue to see discrimination. Only, this form of discrimination comes in the form of access to a better (reliability and speed) network that may or not be as available to all as it really should.
Already, we, the U.S., are at #27* in the world, behind Estonia, as far as ‘Net speeds go AND paying a significantly more for OUR slow speeds. Either way, the U.S. is not looking so hot…
* The speeds, however, vary depending on who you go to and when you check them out:
— Akamai has the U.S. at #11 at 10.5 Mbps in 2014
— One writer, Sept. 4, 2014, wrote that the U.S. is listed at #30 with download speeds of ~20Mbps, http://www.dailydot.com/politics/us-broadband-speed-cost-infographic/
— Ookla has the U.S. listed with download speeds of 33.3 Mbps right now, Mar 1, 2015, http://www.netindex.com/download/2,1/United-States/
Municipal Broadband Roadblocks, Jul 18, 2014, http://broadbandnow.com/report/municipal-broadband-roadblocks/
FCC overturns state laws that protect ISPs from local competition, Feb 26, 2015 , http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/02/fcc-overturns-state-laws-that-protect-isps-from-local-competition/
‘NET Internet (what this writer has been using for years)
BBS Bulletin Board System / Service (of the 80s & early 90s)
FCC Federal Communication Commission
ISP Internet Service Provider
IXC IntereXhange Carrier commonly called a long-distance telephone company
LEC Local Exchange Carrier
Mbps Mega-bits per second
MBps Mega-bytes per second (8 bits/byte)
TELCO Telephone Company