Net Neutrality – Good or Bad?

Mar 5

Net Neutrality – Good or Bad?

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Ringing up customers at the register isn’t the only way stores can make money. Manufacturers are willing to pay a premium to get their products in just the right place within a store. You want an endcap? No problem, but it will cost.

When it comes to the Internet is a similar concept a part of the free market, or is it an impediment to free speech? These questions among others inform the debate around net neutrality. Should service providers be able to charge a premium to allow for preferred delivery of content, or should all traffic on the Internet be treated equally?

The document that sets the rules for net neutrality is about 300 pages, so we’ll just cover a couple of points. Mainly, I’d like to raise a couple of questions and see what people really think.

Would you be ok with content providers paying for preferred delivery if it lowered your monthly bill? Not that this would happen, but if it did would you be ok with it?

Is preferring certain traffic different from  limiting certain traffic? The concept behind net neutrality says that all traffic should be treated equally. If a service like Netflix takes up 50% of a providers available bandwidth for instance, do you want that traffic to have equal status to your business or school needs? Should a provider like Netflix pay for its high usage? Should it be limited if resources are scarce?

If you ship a box to someone, you will pay more for priority delivery. If you ship a large box, it will cost more than a small box. Is this different from Internet traffic? In some ways yes, because the delivery charge is split between the recipient and sender. The websites I visit don’t pay for my broadband, I pay for my Internet access. They pay for their Internet service as well. It is a shared cost in some ways. The other big difference is that senders and receivers often have different providers. So, it would be like shipping a box to someone via FedEx, but they use UPS for deliveries, so somewhere in the middle there is a hand-off. A lot of the net neutrality debate is about these hand-offs and who pays for them.

These are some of the questions in the net neutrality debate. If the goal is a level playing field, is it achieved through equal status for all, or should those who use more pay more? Good or bad? I don’t know.

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