Thursday, August 03, 2006

Why I Do Not Support Net Neutrality

It's simple, actually:

1. Nothing is free (as in beer)
2. Usually, items that are perceived as free (highways, the Internet, Welfare, Medicare, public safety services, etc.) are paid for by the government
3. The U.S. government gets its funding from its citizens--that is you and me
4. I indirectly (through taxes or through "add-on" cost-recovery fees from corporations) do not want to pay for someone else's Internet service.

If someone wants a faster pipe (or improved routing), that's fine. They can pay for that pipe. But I don't want to pay for their faster pipe. Also, with net neutrality, there's no incentive to improve delivery. If I'm Sprint, Verizon, or AT&T, why would I improve my service? There's no financial incentive. With Net Neutrality, I can't charge more for it. The Internet is not free (as in beer). It's no more free than making a phone call or getting cable TV.

Uncle Sam may have built Arpanet but the communications firms of this country build the modern-day Internet (at least within the U.S.). If I build a building, I should have a right to sell condos in that building for whatever I want. If the market for condos supports what I'm charging, that's great. The government should not be allowed to step in and say, "oh, BTW, every one of those condos has to be priced exactly the same...oh, and they can't exceed this ceiling". That's BS. I made an investment in my building and expect to realize a return on that investment. Otherwise, in the future, I will choose not to build that building and as a result, someone might not have a place to live. (as an extreme example)

This country was built on capitalism and self-reliance. We've grown into a group of complacent, handout-seeking, egalitarians. Save me! Save me! It has to stop. The government's role in this country should be to maintain individual rights, provide law and order, and maintain property rights. Otherwise, the government controls or has a hand in too much of our daily lives. The framers of our constitution never intended Uncle Sam to serve as a bedside nurse--they intended Uncle Sam to provide an environment of freedom and opportunity with a few rules such that its citizens could create and provide for themselves.

Let capitalism and economics do their thing. They usually work things out. Freedom isn't free.

Update 01/23/2007: Several of the founders weigh in against Net Neutrality.


mickosaurus said...

The second assertion that you make -- while true -- is out of place. It has no bearing here. Why? Because customers are the ones paying for the net. When anyone buys (more properly leases) a connection to the Internet, you pay for upload *and* download.

For example:
Let's say that I'm a Comcast cable (AT&T) customer. AT&T decides that OSU (a Sprint customer) should no longer get a "free ride", and they should pay AT&T in order to have video football highlights be delivered to Comcast cable customers.

Why this is bad:
The problem is that I've *already paid* for this data to come to me! My monthly Comcast fees pay for the bandwidth that I consume. What AT&T and their ilk are trying to do is get paid twice for just one service. Imagine if UPS charged both the shipper *and* the receiver for delivering the same package!

But wait! It gets worse!!
I believe you should be able to get what you pay for. This is one of the most fundamental tenants of capitalism. Under tiered pricing, I no longer am able to do this. If the provider isn't willing (or able*) to pay my network carrier; no matter how good of a network connection I pay for, I will always have an artificially degraded experience.

This sort of a money grab is simply outrageous. "Tiered pricing" is nothing but a euphemism for the network carries shaking down the content providers. If network carriers desire more profit, they should charge more for their services, offer new features, or come up with ways to more efficiently run their businesses.

Net neutrality is fair, just, and can ultimately be quite profitable. I sincerely hope you rethink your stand on this issue.

Your last paragraph about capitalism and self-reliance is awesome. We need more who understand and embrace our national spirit. As long as there are those who hold these views, there is hope for the republic.

* not everyone is Google, eBay, or Amazon. The whole web2.0 thing (I feel dirty using that buzzword) is about consumer created content. This tiered pricing structure could very easily choke web2.0 just while it's learning to crawl.

Jeff Hunsaker said...

This is no different than the existing phone system. Both the sender and receiver are charged. The sender pays for the call but the receiver has to at least pay for local service to even accept calls.

Also, capitalism will once again come to the rescue if for example, AT&T charges the recipient of traffic: the commercial recipient will pay for both. Think Amazon will disallow traffic to reach their servers? Heck no. This might be tough on the little guy but let's remember this isn't service or no service; it's mediocre or enhanced service.

With paid monthly service, everyone will get some sort of baseline feature set. With "basic", I can traverse anywhere on the Internet I choose but perhaps not with blazing speed. For $20/month...I'm just fine with that. I experience this today with [evil] SBC. I could be $40 for double the speed but it's not that valuable to me.

Now, if I'm Amazon (or some other Web 2.0 firm ;-), that probably won't cut it. So, I pay AT&T more to get a faster pipe. Firms do this today in the form of leased lines.

I'm continuing my research and hope these analogies are accurate. That said, it has been my experience the path of rational economics, capitalism, and open markets rarely parellels with the sentiments of and the democrats in Congress. and the democrats in Congress remain the strongest net neutrality supporters. Not that the republicans have it figured out either but this situation alone raises the hair on my neck.