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Net Neutrality Retreat Threatens Cloud Growth

A proposal to undermine net neutrality by allowing ISPs to charge for "fast lane" traffic would create competitive barriers for businesses and stymie cloud adoption.

I'm about as pro-capitalism as one gets. Nevertheless, I believe there are instances when the US government must step in and impose regulation on industries with near monopolies. Our Internet carriers are one example of a near monopoly. That's why I'm very much in favor of net neutrality to protect customers from being shaken down by a handful of carriers.

However, the FCC is wavering in its commitment to support a full-blown net neutrality policy by considering a proposal to allow ISPs to sell tiered services to businesses like Google and Netflix for preferential treatment of their Internet content on backhaul links. The plan, though sounding capitalistic in nature, would create artificial barriers to entry and could slow cloud growth.

The concept that the FCC and several ISPs are pushing is often referred to as "fast lane" traffic. The idea is that Internet backhaul service providers would be able to charge extra for favored treatment when transmitting data over the Internet. Businesses that didn't pay the fees for preferential treatment would have to wait a bit longer for their data to be sent.

This effectively would create a competitive advantage for those willing to pay extra for improved speeds. It's a slap in the face of the entire net neutrality concept, which attempts to preserve the Internet's openness and fairness.

When artificial competitive advantages and barriers to entry are created, they often have unintended consequences. Cloud computing is largely popular because it's allowed even the smallest companies to compete against the big players. Massive amounts of capital are no longer needed to build an online presence. Small businesses can leverage a fraction of a larger infrastructure and expand/contract as needed. But with a proposed (and likely expensive) added cost to match larger competitors, small companies and startups would either wither and die -- or not even try to compete in the first place.

I completely understand the concern of ISPs looking into the future and wondering how they're going to pay for the underlying Internet backhaul communication. Over the next five years, Internet traffic is expected to skyrocket, and someone has to foot the bill for backbone upgrades.

Still, in my opinion, forcing online businesses -- creators of most Internet content -- to pay is not the wisest choice. In fact, I'd rather see consumers pay extra for content consumed in the form of data caps and added fees for exceeding them. This gives control to consumers to use their bandwidth as they see fit. It also allows businesses to compete on an even playing field. By doing so, businesses battle against one another based on product/service alone. Then it's up to consumers to decide which choice is right for them.

It's dangerous to create fast and slow lanes for Internet traffic. If the net neutrality stance were to capitulate on any one measure to pay for the expected Internet growth spurt, the best solution (and the one that would truly promote capitalism) would be to push the cost down to the consumer.

If we essentially expect businesses to pay for a manufactured competitive advantage, it could heavily impact competitiveness on the Internet and almost certainly would erode cloud use by small businesses and startups. That's a dangerous road to travel, and it would create a net that is far from neutral.

Andrew has well over a decade of enterprise networking under his belt through his consulting practice, which specializes in enterprise network architectures and datacenter build-outs and prior experience at organizations such as State Farm Insurance, United Airlines and the ... View Full Bio
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Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
7/13/2014 | 8:17:39 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
I'm even considering getting rid of Broadband altogether and going 4G.

Honestly, I do miss cable, though.  I love me some fancy channels and some DVR.
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
7/7/2014 | 7:34:56 PM
Re: Net Neutrality
Congratulations on cutting the cord! That is a strange deal on the cable/broadband, but great it saves money.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
7/6/2014 | 7:33:26 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
@Pablo: Certainly, much of Europe has great cellular coverage.  What are the International (or, at least, "intra-European") calling rates like?

(FWIW, I remember when I bought the cheapest throwaway I could find when I was in Poland a couple of years ago, calls to other countries like Germany were not really an option.  But, again, cheapest throwaway I could find.)
Pablo Valerio
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Pablo Valerio,
User Rank: Author
7/5/2014 | 7:24:20 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
Joe, I have not seen anyone using a satellite phone in Europe. I believe that, at least in Western Europe, we have almost 99% cellular coverage.

But population density in much higher than the US, and we have many more service providers.

The fact that all the EU and most of the world uses the same GSM standard also helps to provide good coverage.

Now 3G is almost everywhere. LTE is taking a bit longer, but now is available in most large cities.

And the EU is trying to take the lead to develop the future 5G standard.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
7/5/2014 | 2:25:10 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
I cut the cord on my fancy-schmancy cable TV package a while back, but still needed Internet.  Through some perversion, it was about $4/mo. cheaper for me to get basic cable with broadband Internet than broadband Internet alone.

I can't remember the last time I turned on my TV.  It just sits and collects dust, and my basic cable goes to waste, existing only to bring down the cost of my Internet.
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
7/2/2014 | 3:07:32 PM
Re: Net Neutrality
Yeah, since I'd still need a broadband service to use Vonage, I don't know if it would help much in terms of reducing the overall communications bill. Getting stand-alone Internet service is usually expensive.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
7/2/2014 | 2:03:43 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
@Marcia: For landline phone service, you might consider a service like Vonage for phone only (although you need broadband for it to work).  The price is comparable to -- if not cheaper than -- Comcast/Verizon/other Broadband providers.
MarciaNWC
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MarciaNWC,
User Rank: Strategist
7/1/2014 | 11:53:07 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
Yeah, I think there might be some really nichy Internet services, but the problem is that I still need phone and TV, and the way Comcast and AT&T has it set up, unless you get a bundled service from them, the prices are ridiculous. The satellite TV services are expensive too.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
7/1/2014 | 12:02:20 AM
Re: Net Neutrality
@Pablo: Considering the very connected, very integrated nature of the European continent and the attendant demand for access and connection to other countries thereby, what's the demand/popularity for satellite phones in Europe like?

I see these special "call anywhere in the world, unlimited" ultra-high-tech, ultra-compatible-tech phones advertised in in-flight catalogs all the time, particularly when flying abroad.  I'm curious if these are actually particularly popular among those who have to regularly travel other than high-level executives and people with money to burn.
Joe Stanganelli
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Joe Stanganelli,
User Rank: Author
6/30/2014 | 11:54:30 PM
Re: Net Neutrality
@Marcia: Well, there is Verizon FIOS, but that's only if they're in your geographic area (and, for that matter, if they're in your building -- if you live in an apartment or condo complex).  Ditto for DirecTV and other satellite services for television, but they are quite different, and -- again -- can present difficulties if you live in an apartment or a condo.

I am also aware of services that let you connect your laptop to the Internet via 4G for a reasonable monthly price -- and I'm not just talking about Verizon and AT&T's super expensive data plans.  If only I could remember the name... I got a solicitation for such a service a few years ago, and I was very tempted (I think it was only about $50/month for unlimited data, or at least some very high data amount).  If I remembered the name of the company and/or hadn't thrown out that piece of junk mail, I'd seriously consider switching.
Page 1 / 3   >   >>
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