Posted by: Frank | May 30, 2014

Net Neutrality is Improperly Named and Actually Really Easy To Understand.

What Net Neutrality is about is keeping the Internet a free market. In other words, if you support Net Neutrality, you support keeping the Internet a free market so that any person with an idea, people like Mark Zuckerberg and Evan Williams, can become successful.

The people who oppose Net Neutrality are the people who are already making tons of money from the Internet and its use. As often happens with monopolies, the people and companies who make it to the top of the mountain want to stay at the top at any cost. The most natural response for these companies is to use whatever means is possible, be it government regulation or anti-competitive measures, to keep competition away. The purpose of the Sherman Antitrust Act is to control these “natural” actions by such companies.

Competition means that those at the top of the mountain might not get every possible dollar out there, and more importantly, competition means that consumers (read you and I) benefit by getting either better products and services or lower prices.

The reality is that for all practical purposes there is no competition for providing homes and businesses with fast access to the Internet. While there are exceptions, in most homes you may only have two options for Internet access: cable or DSL. DSL is not considered by most to really be fast Internet access. Frankly, two options does not provide competition and is for all practical purposes a monopoly.

Others oppose Net Neutrality because they don’t want any U.S. government regulation on the Internet. The problem as I see it is that the establishment of “fast” and “slow” lanes on the Internet, which is what the companies at the top of the Internet want, is itself government regulation. You are going to have regulation here, no matter what, the real question is, will the regulation benefit the majority of citizens of the United States or will the regulation benefit the minority of citizens who have already become rich from the Internet.

If it were me, I would change the slogan/title from “Net Neutrality” to “Keep The Internet A Free Market.” The Internet has made all our lives better because it is a bizarre, not a cathedral.

Stop and think about how we have all benefited because everyone has equal access to highways, to electricity, and to phones, all of which are highly regulated so that they benefit citizens. Could you start a shipping company if only the corporate shipping companies could afford to pay to use the interstate freeways? What if you could only afford to have electricity in your business or house for three hours a day? What if you couldn’t afford to have a phone line?

The Internet is the first utility of the 21st century, and we seem determined to forget lessons of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is the free market, for now.


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