Ok. Maybe I Don’t Get It. #netneutrality


So last week, I wrote how I finally got it. Fast forward a week with a little more knowledge and I have to confess. I still don’t get net neutrality. Especially after reading NPR’s piece highlighting opposing views.


“Imagine logging on to your favorite band’s website and you wanted to buy something from them directly, and you were just somehow diverted to the ISP’s favorite online music store,”

That is exactly what I DO NOT want.

But then, there’s another tidbit which states tiered pricing is already in effect and wealthier companies like Netfilx, Google (YouTube) and iTunes already pay more to get faster service. So with net neutrality rules, it would harm the Internet…? Another quote:

“They’re saying that we want to preserve the Internet, but in fact, what they’re going to do is change the Internet such that services like YouTube and Netflix won’t work.”

How would net neutrality rules harm the Internet? Why would no net neutrality rules effect the current state of the Internet? Why are individuals, corporations, businesses and entrepreneurs bucketed in the same pricing structure? Shouldn’t we be protecting consumers and small businesses?

Net neutrality is something we all must comprehend to form our opinions…but it’s so confusing. I feel like such a dummy but can someone provide a neutral synopsis, bulleting the pros and cons? The more I read, the more I’m confused.


(Thanks, Marko, for pointing me to the NPR piece. xx)


12 thoughts on “Ok. Maybe I Don’t Get It. #netneutrality

  1. From my understanding of it, a lack of net neutrality means that internet service providers can discriminate and pick favorites based on where internet traffic is coming from and going.

    For instance, if I’m visiting the AT&T website using Verizon FiOS, they could throttle the speed at which I can send and receive data from the site. So it might load super effing slow. On the flip side, the Verizon sites might have some of the fastest page loads EVAR.

    The danger is an example like the one above, but also in a scenario where the ISPs (Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, etc) charge companies who want to have their data put in the “fast lane” for everyone. It’s a threat to the smaller voices the internet has helped amplify over the past however many years, who would be put in the “slow lane” because they don’t have the bucks to compete with large corporations.

    It’s sad, but it just goes to show you that there isn’t a thing out there that isn’t for sale.

    Anyway, that’s my understanding. Could be wrong. Anyone is free to call my BS on this.

  2. I think your initial instinct is still right. I’m no expert but I think Geoge Ou and Digital Society are being disingenuous. Sure, everyone pays for bandwidth. If individual consumers pay more, they get more bandwidth; same for corporations. No one is arguing that this shouldn’t happen. That’s not what net neutrality advocates are fighting against. What ISPs wants is to be able to control not just the amount of data but the type of data passing through the wires to your house. Like, you might spend $30 a month for a so-called “unlimited” data plan, but you have to add another $25 if you want to stream online video, another $15 if you want VOIP and another $10 if you want music too. The ISPs want the right to decide what traffic actually gets priority passing through the last mile of cable into your home or office. Obviously this would allow them to make deals with content providers — so a big player like Netflix might pay Verizon to carry its content at a reduced cost of only $15 a month to the end-user, sat, but a new startup — or even a rogue data provider (think Wikileaks), wouldn’t be able to buy that access to the end-user and would be effectively shut out.

    Word on the web is that Digital Society is indirectly funded by AT&T and Verizon, though I can’t verify that.

    Again, I’m no expert, so take this for what it;s worth, but I think you were right to think this is a big problem.

    1. The pricing per packets I understand, and the main reason I am all for net neutrality. But when I see individuals I respect and trust (Dave Winer or Rizzn, for instance) fighting against net neutrality, I question my stance. Though I am unfamiliar with the special interest groups referenced in the NPR piece, it raised more flags I should fully comprehend opposing views before stating where to stand. The problem is, I still don’t see why we should be against net neutrality and still can’t see any valid reasons why.

      The ambiguity of it all is what confuses me to no end but my biggest fear is being THAT person who bitches after the laws are in full effect (if net neutrality is indeed a bad thing.)

      American politics and all this lobbying is so lame, as it’s us, the little people, who gets fucked two ways ’til Tuesday for lack of comprehension.

      Thanks for the comment Nathan!

      1. Just to clarify – I like the concepts of Network Neutrality… I just don’t think the government should mandate it.

        I know you’re looking for neutral explanation, so I’ll keep this short. :)

        I’ve already explained the startup ISP/competition model. Let me explain another angle.

        One of the watch-phrases of Network Neutrality advocates is “all bits are created equally.” We know this, when we stop to think, to be untrue. If you want to enforce network neutrality, you have to define what the Internet actually is. Does it stop at the ISP level? If I run a convention center and run internal wireless and wired networks, is my private network the Internet?

        The strictest definition of the term means my entire network is The Internet.

        So if all bits are created equally and private networks set up to accommodate tech conference goers at Moscone Center (for instance) are subject to Network Neutrality rules, then how can you expect to be able to make a Skype call, or perhaps run a live interview on Justin.TV? From a network architecture rules standpoint, you can’t, because those types of operations are governed by Quality-of-Service (QoS) rules.

        QoS is essentially the practice giving certain ports and data-types priority on the network. It’s what allows VoIP users to make e911 calls, even when someone may be downloading a massive file from Bittorrent on the next computer over. In short, it’s the practice of treating bits un-equally.

        I said I was going to keep this short. Oops. :-)

    2. Digital Society is a publishing partner with SiliconANGLE – while one of the principals of DS does have loose ties to lobbying, I can verify that said principal isn’t a contributing member. The writers write from their own voice, not from a playbook.

      1. That is to say, DS and SiliconANGLE have a content sharing agreement – the companies aren’t financially entangled. I can’t speak to the inner workings of DS, but we vetted them before we entered the content sharing agreement.

        Sorry, should have clarified.

  3. After reading this post, and the comments, I understand it a little better. But this is where it gets scary – that I hear about it, sure, because I’m on the internet all day. But what about people who aren’t? That’s what sucks to me – because it’s going to effect people who have NO IDEA what’s going on in the first place.

    And if I can’t wrap my head around it and understand what exactly ‘net neutrality’ is, then I can’t imagine the amount of people who haven’t even heard of it. And that’s scary to me. And then there’s the idea of how much business growth, connecting the world, and online interaction is going to slow down to a halt because of a-la-carte bandwidth fees, pay-to-play, and ISP supervision.

  4. OK Mona, I’m not sure if this is what you are looking for, but here’s what it boils down to for me:

    1. Network neutrality is one of the core foundational principles of the internet. It is how the Net has always been, and we should continue to be fairly protective of it. Lots of really important and powerful organizations would like to control every aspect of the global inter-network. This should not happen.

    2. The FCC, while well-meaning, is the last group of idiots that we want protecting what is already ours. You only need to look as far as the superbowl fiasco with wardrobe malfunctions and the resulting fines to know what the world would look like if the FCC ran the intertubes.

    3. The rest is just details. Except the part where politicians like to co-opt terms and use them to describe things that mean the exact opposite of what they actually mean.

    Anytime you hear a politician open his/her mouth about something, nowadays you have to expect that what they are promoting is the opposite of what the thing they are promoting is called (e.g. Patriot act – not about promoting patriotism, but about creating a society of compliant whiners, or “Net Neutrality” which now means “we propose to allow the big media companies to write their own rules, and we will call it net neutrality since that is what the people we are against call their cause.”).

    So, it’s not confusing because you are doing a bad job following along, it’s confusing because the people who don’t like the idea of network neutrality have done a masterful job of subverting the English language for their own purposes.

  5. 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… Treating Web traffic equally means carriers couldnt block or slow access to legal services or sites that are a drain on their networks or offered by rivals..The rules will escalate a fight over how much control the government should have over Internet commerce.

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