Contributed by Michael Harrington
Net Neutrality is an interesting topic. Especially since neutrality on one portion would possibly devastate other portions.
If you look carefully, there are a few layers to the #internet. There is the hardware which allows the internet to exist. Many companies own portions of this as do some governments. There are a number of reasons why ISP (internet service providers) prices are very stable, including laws, regulations, free market principles, and the likes. It’s a bit tangled, but suffice to say that this is a low-cost portion of the internet.
You are almost entirely going to get on the internet via an ISP. Only if you are extremely rich (connected, academically researching, etc) will you ever skip this level. These guys are the marketing, sales reps, startups and more to you and me. Sometimes these guys also own an area of the internet hardware as well. These guys lease access, provide you a link to the main hub and charge you a fee for doing so. They also pay the hardware companies a certain amount as well.
Then there are content providers. This would be #Google, #YouTube, NetFlix, and things like the Pizza Hut website. Everything you find on the internet is content. Some hardware companies have a bit of content, many ISP’s provide a lot of content (Yes Yahoo I am looking at you!), and many companies provide content only, thus skipping the other two layers.
An additional unseen layer exists, this layer is Patents and Trade Secrets which help the internet run in some manner. Most things with which the internet runs is using an Open License or a License with such a low-cost no one talks about it. Some things have higher prices including some of the things on your cell phone.
#Net Neutrality was implemented to make one layer have an advantage over another layer. But first let us cover the issue that was, and is still, occurring.
Some Hardware Companies (Comcast for example), some ISP Companies (AT&T for example), and some Content Providers (Netflix for example) are trying to dominate what has turned into the most profitable portion of the internet to this date. That would be movies and television shows.
The Hardware Companies were in a bind because they had to provide bandwidth to anyone and it was, admittedly, getting hard to keep up in some regions. They also, however, saw the profitability of the captive viewer audience. However, they were also the worst abusers of any efforts to provide content with glaringly high prices, fixed purchasing plans, and locked in long-term contracts. They could do this due to their locations sometimes being the only source for both Hardware and ISP.
Some ISP’s were also hurting from lack of bandwidth and wanted in the game. #AT&T was really late to the game with any movie offering and did not want to pay a premium to take over an existing movie service. So they were going to, and probably will if they can get away with it, charge all movie services of any sorts a very high premium to their customers. They are also introducing their own movie streaming service with extra freebies included (thanks to their hardware level access to cellular internet) such as no internet limits on downloading their movies.
Additionally, the Content Providers were in a bind. YouTube (Google), NetFlix, and others were going to literally be made extinct if those other companies were allowed to play rough and ruin their profits.
So the idea of Net Neutrality was to make it so that Content Providers would pay one price regardless of content. This would affect mostly the ISP level since the hardware level was already forced to a certain extent to comply. In the background, threats using some of the Intellectual Property rights were also made.
The Obama administration noted that some ISP’s have a natural monopoly to an extent. Some cities restrict other ISP’s out, many can never compete within the cellular market efficiently, and so forth. So the Obama administration initially set to make the top layer protected from the middle layer and a bit from the ground layer.
However, the way the Obama administration finally set out to do it was abusive to most sides in many ways. Instead of identifying barriers to market entry and access it was creating barriers to market entry and access. The costs of the Net Neutrality set up that his administration created was so burdensome that many companies literally stopped growing at all. They would not accept new customer regions, they would not improve their hardware, they had no chance to really profit from the hardware or ISP levels.
It was not about just the heavy content use by movies and videos it was an effort to control growth with an extremely heavy hand. Eventually, if Hillary was elected there would probably have been an increase in subsidies… Oh yes, there were subsidies at several levels. One for ‘the poor’ and one for ‘rural areas not yet provided for’. Instead of making it easier for companies to just grow and compete, Net Neutrality would dictate as much as possible of that growth.
If I were in charge of making the internet more fair, then I would allow companies to add to the hardware level themselves. I would probably split the top three internet providers at the cellular level and I would definitely send the Federal Trade Commission after any and all cities which were preventing free trade from occurring.
The internet is a wonderful and rare thing. It has grown with remarkable speed due to the lite touch of regulations upon it and the lack of extra costs such as an internet tax. Companies like Google are able to offer Gigabit internet speeds at reasonable prices when the free market is able to work as designed.
Right now the system is indeed unfair to some extent. For example, AT&T and others are trying to force competitors into extreme costs in order to have monopoly level powers and we should call them out on this.
The solution might be one single regulation/law. Those who want to provide the hardware cannot produce for sale content nor run an ISP. Those who want to be an ISP cannot produce for sale content nor own part of the hardware. Those who want to provide content cannot be an ISP or have hardware.
That one law would prevent monopolies, for the most part, from being able to truly abuse their power. It would be a lot more fair than the badly and incorrectly named Net Neutrality. It would also make controlling the internet far harder for any evil-minded powers.
The biggest problem is a lot of people paid huge amounts in the name of helping Net Neutrality happen. They made so much noise, so many fake stories, generated panic in many circles, that there is a lot of hearsay about Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality was and never will be about “neutrality”. It is about helping some while implementing costly rules, laws, and regulations to help control the very internet itself.
All views expressed by the author belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Little Bytes News.