New developments are in the works regarding Net Neutrality. The WSJ reports:
The U.S. government plans to propose broad new rules Monday that would force Internet providers to treat all Web traffic equally, seeking to give consumers greater freedom to use their computers or cellphones to enjoy videos, music and other legal services that hog bandwidth….
As a refresher, the article mentions “four guiding principles” that were adopted by the FCC as originally four principles of “network freedoms” in mid-2005 which read:
- Consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice;
- Consumers are entitled to run applications and services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement;
- Consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network; and
- Consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers. [ Network neutrality in the United States – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.]
This is a complicated issue that the wiki article does a nice job of laying out the various aspects and players in the mix.
I’m for free markets and less regulations. I would err on the side of letting industry work it out. In the net-neutrality debate, the crux of the issue is the 4th freedom above: whether or not the competition exists in the market. For our household, we have a several competitive options for broadband to the home and have even recently made a switch based on better value and service. At work, I recently made a switch on my mobile phone provider based on the applications that my new device and carrier could provide.
The Wall Street Journal summed it up well when editorializing on the agreement worked out last year between cable giant Comcast and file service giant BitTorrent:
“Government’s role here, properly understood, is not to tell Comcast how to manage its network. Rather, it is to make sure consumers have alternatives to Comcast if they are unhappy with their Internet service.”
Again, this is a complicated issue, or as the Wiki article starts out “Network neutrality in the US is a contentious issue.” This is the case with many issues related to the frantic pace of technological change. I have read great comments and thoughtful analysis on both sides and, in fact, two of my favorite technology businesses, Cisco & Google, are on opposite sides of the debate. (click on the Cisco & Google links to view their policies.) So, what do you think?