On August 30, Minnesota Senator Mark Dayton came out in support of Network Neutrality. At the press conference, Becca Vargo Daggett, Director of the Telecommunications as Commons Project at the Institute for Local Self Reliance, presented the Senator with 13,000 signatures supporting neutrality.
Technology Evangelist Ed Kohler recorded the event.
The big danger about an unneutral network is that the deals to move some content faster than other content may all be done and accomplished behind the curtain. The average Jane or Joe Web surfer won’t know that the fast-loading travel site they are using to make airline reservations paid to get their content pumped faster than the little start-up operation way over there which can’t afford to pay the premiums demanded by the major broadband players. This is an incredibly important concept to understand because from some vantage points, this unneutral network will look the same as the (mostly) neutral one we have today. Jane or Joe won’t really see that there is a fast lane for big players and then the other lanes where access to a site will be painfully slow even if you have a broadband connection.
This scenario will significantly alter (for the worst) innovation. Start-up companies won’t be able to afford the fast access lane. Today, they don’t have to. The Web is essentially neutral and my blog will load as fast as Robert Iger’s (if he had one).
For a visual explanation of the concepts I’m attempting to explain check out (former) Rocketboomer Amanda Congdon’s take on the issue.
On the other hand, there needs to be a way to optimize networks for certain services as long as there is competition among purveyors of the service and I’m not locked in to choosing only one. This would be difficult to enforce as in many markets, there just is no competition for broadband service. Here in Minneapolis, you can choose Qwest or Comcast. Next year, we’ll have US Internet and its Wi-Fi service.
Really, we’re seeking a truly competitive marketplace and that will ensure network neutrality. Over-regulating to get to neutrality could muck things up.
I hope we can work this one out. The Internet needs lots of room to expand and the only way to get all that room is to keep it neutral.
The Jon Stewart/Ted Stevens video about the “Internet as a pipe” that can get clogged by an enormous amount of material. Incredibly funny. (Here’s the original Stevens speech at Public Knowledge against neutrality.)
Free Press take on Senate bill S.2917. This is the best summary I’ve found.
Thomas search, Library of Congress info on the bill.