PhoneBoy’s Thoughts on Net Neutrality
Monday morning the VoIP Think Tank adjourned for a podcast, which is now available (here is the raw MP3). One of the major topics of our podcast this morning was Net Neutrality which I did express some thoughts on in the podcast, but I didn’t have all of my thoughts fully formed. What I’m writing here will hopefully be more ‘fully formed.”
To paraphrase the US Declaration of Independence: I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all packets are created equal, that they are endowed by their creators with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of their intended destination. Packets are packets and should be treated equally.
I agree with the principle of Net Neutrality, but I do not think it should be legislated. Using the force of law to compel a telco to do something that isn’t in their best interest is just plain stupid. Legislation is just an “obstacle” for the telcos to work around in order to do what they want anyway. The best example of this? The Telecommunications Act of 1996 which supposedly set all these rules for “unbundling network elements” so competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) could compete with the Baby Bells. We all know who won that battle.
I believe issues caused by a “lack of” neutrality will correct themselves via the free market in such a way that neutrality will be assured. You can bet if either cable or DSL started “blocking’ content, the other would tout their “open’ network and use it as a marketing tool. Furthermore, there are third alternatives to the local cable and telco for access in some locations now, others coming in the very near future.
The fact that the keepers of the “Core” of the Internet, i.e. the telcos, are suggesting prioritizing traffic suggests they are having bandwidth contention issues. The first, best solution to that problem is to add more bandwidth, not to prioritize. Adding capacity in the core is far cheaper and easier than trying to figure out how to prioritize.
Now I do see a situation where all the providers “collude” and decide to prioritize the same content higher than others. In the unlikely event that happens, then and only then should be consider legal action. Changing the laws should be a last resort, not the first resort.