As expected, the FCC voted to end net neutrality yesterday. What that means to you is in the future you are likely to have to pay more to read my blog. Yea, I know that for some of you, that notion excites you. But what about your Fantasy Football league, or how about your Netflix? Are you ready for a tiered service pricing structure to consume your internet? That’s net neutrality in a nutshell. The telecoms now have the authority to treat internet traffic on their network differently.
The discussion at the FCC yesterday centered on the two competing points of view. On one side, the telecoms and their FCC surrogates argue that net neutrality stifled innovation. That net neutrality made it too cumbersome and expensive for smaller telecoms to provide internet service to rural areas and to compete with the larger companies in metro areas. Conveniently, the proponents forgot to mention that the large telecoms already control too much of the market to allow smaller startups to compete in the Internet service delivery segment of the industry.
But more insidious is that the telecoms aren’t concerned about startups competing in internet delivery services because the infrastructure is too expensive and too cumbersome to install to the house’s delivery point. Rather, any internet provider wanting to compete against the existing telecoms will likely be forced to lease space from the existing telecoms.
What the telecoms really want is the ability to tier the speed of the internet to your household so that they can charge you on what you consume. Keep in mind that many of the telecoms own many of the sites that deliver content to you, so in addition to charging you more for certain sites, they now get to give preferential treatment to what gets priority delivery to you.
Take, for example, Xfinity, which is owned by Comcast. Comcast owns NBCUniversal Media. Let’s say you want to watch a television show. Your choices are NBC or Netflix. Who do you think Xfinity will give preferential access to? NBC or Netflix? You get the idea.
The other side of the argument made the point that the elimination of net neutrality allows the telecoms the ability to tier your service. They offered similar arguments to the one I made above.
But it gets worse. Let’s say Facebook makes a deal with Comcast, or agrees to pay the fees for faster access to your device. When I launch my Facebook competitor, I’m immediately limited in my ability to compete against Facebook because either my platform is not available through your internet package or it is so severely slowed down that many of you wouldn’t bother trying it out. You don’t even get to trash my new application for being too badly coded for it to be taken seriously.
So much for innovation!
Yesterday, the internet took several steps backwards. The FCC voted three to two to end net neutrality. We’ve been pushed back to the time when you paid a per minute charge to place a cellular call to your significant other.