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Opposing Net Neutrality Means Opposing Innovation

Since the elections, the tech media has been buzzing about the loss of support  for net neutrality which the FCC set forth in this proposal.   I am a proponent of Net Neutrality because I think the proposed rules make sense. Take my word for it or go read the proposal yourself.  Let me be crystal clear. If you are against Network Neutrality, you are fighting for your on-line experience to be tailored by your carrier's business arrangements. You are fighting for crippled access to services YOU want to use, even more fragmentation in wired and wireless service, and crippled phones with pre-installed crippled software using crippled services.

Fundamentally, the problem carriers face stems from lack of capacity at cell sites and hauling the data from cell sites to the carrier. It's not unlike the problems early Internet service providers faced in the 1980's and 1990's where they had more users than modems and had to oversubscribe their services, which resulted in some customers not being able to connect during peak times. As iPhone users found with AT&T, when you have far too many people trying to access a scare resource like tower time, service suffers.

As broadband cable and telco DSL became popular, access wasn't a problem, but capacity was. The links from the access locations through to the Internet where congested. To manage the problem, ISPs tried to restrict access by limiting time on-line or limiting the amount of data that could be transferred. They quickly found that restrictions didn't work well, and dropped them when customers fled restrictive services for ones offered unlimited access. Of course, the result was congestion on the now unlimited broadband networks.  The ISPs just shrug and say "We're trying."

Sound familiar?

So what the budding ISPs did was fight to get the FCC to classify them "information services" and not as common carriers.  As common carriers, the ISPs would have had strict rules governing their operations. By contrast, information services are independent of the carrier. You can access information services from any Internet location in the US (for the most part). The idea was that with a looser designation, innovation and competition could thrive. Unfortunately, neither happened. Your broadband service is like any other broadband service, with the same features and functions. You can jump from one service to another easily, but it doesn't matter much because most people only have two choices that are similarly priced. Not much competition there. When was the last time you used a broadband provider's information service? What's that? Never?

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