This topic came up today in an entirely unrelated forum, but it stirred up the hornet’s nest for me. I don’t tend to post on these sort of topics, but to me this is one that should cross all lines.

Of course, this all boils down to the news of the day, about a federal appeals court decision upturning the FCC’s rules on net neutrality. Which to me if nothing else is incredibly anti-consumer.

Even if I believe that the big Internet Service Providers are buckling under the strain of delivering data to you and me as consumers, then the simple but unpopular answer is charge more. Either charge more across the board or there are fewer all you can eat packages. I know a lot of us already pay different rates based on speed (which effectively bottlenecks how much content you use), but they could also simply charge based on usage. Which is a practice already used by most mobile data providers. Again, I know that’s not a happy answer but if they really are not recouping their investment, that’s the obvious answer.

Let’s pretend for a moment that an internet service provider who is hurting for cash had the money to take this to federal appeals court. So why spend all that money trying to prove all data is not equal? In my estimation, it’s not simply so they can charge more to keep the lights on. They could already charge more if they so desired.

Instead, this is the ability to repackage the content on the internet. Basically saying that if you want access to these services, you’ll pay for that package. It’s basically turning the internet into a cable company where I access some services only if I pay for that luxury. Perhaps they’ll charge me directly. Perhaps instead they’ll charge the content providers, but in the end, the consumer will always end up paying for these add-on fees.

To me, a good analogy would be that I add a room to my house and Georgia Power charges me to have electricity in those rooms, whether or not I use any additional electricity per month or not. It’s a charge simply for the luxury of having another room. Phone companies used to do this in the days of corded phones when they charged a fee for each working phone in your home! The more things change, the more they stay the same.

old-phone-bill

They’re clearly trying to play monopoly on the internet with the same game plan that was in use in 1960! Or maybe it was 1920?

When your ISP gets to decide that the data you receive is not all the same to them, you’ll end up soon enough in a situation where you’re not paying just for data. You’ll pay more for popular sites otherwise they’ll be unreachable or crippled. And it’s a short boat ride from there to ideas being too unpopular to transmit at a reasonable speed. Does the head of your super-mega-ISP not like a particular candidate, woe unto anyone trying to reach their site!

How many small businesses made it big on the internet? How many will after they are on the dirt road of the internet?

If these businesses truly need to charge more to survive, then they need to make that hard decision, but it sounds to me like the real money is in content not data, and they want you to pay them for both even if the content is not theirs to begin with.

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