Netflix matters because it and YouTube now suck up 53 percent of the Internet bandwidth. Time Warner and Comcast are merging into a goliath that still has a Novell problem: The future is obviously not scheduled cable broadcast of content, but content on demand. The only thing propping their old business model up is that most of you like watching sports, and getting those streamed can be painful and low-definition.
The future business model of delivering content on demand undercuts their old model. So when people like me "unplug," buy Showtime programs as boxed DVD sets, and watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for everything else, Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, and the other carriers can only sell us more bandwidth, which isn't nearly as profitable as the old cable TV model.
So the cable monopolies have hired armies of lobbyists to pass at the local level anti-choice "model" legislation designed by corporate lobbying group ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) that purports to keep the Internet safe for the free market (despite the fact that there isn't one). The real reason for the legislation is to keep access more scarce and costs high on the consumer side. ALEC has now infiltrated the FCC, the U.S. Congress, and others to kill Net neutrality so its members can charge more.
What will this mean to the Internet and to you?
Hey, Netflix has piles of cash and plenty of viewers, so it can pay the new fees imposed by Comcast, Time Warner, and the other big Internet service providers. In fact, this capitulation may even work to Netflix's advantage by creating a big barrier to entry for other streaming video providers.
Netflix paying to get a fast lane on the Internet isn't likely to slow access to your homepage or your blog -- you're too small for the carriers to target. Facebook will be fine because it also has money and some political power. But that new startup that could have changed your life will be throttled, as will competitors to those who bought access to the fast lane. Those penniless startups and those services competing with the carriers or the fast lane providers will be stuck in the slow lane, which means users will avoid them. That's the reality of the end of the open Internet.
That is, that's the end of the open Internet in America. By contrast, Europe -- which has enshrined Net neutrality into law -- will become more competitive as America loses more of its edge.
Time for you to act to save the open Internet
Sadly, it's likely that we will lose the fight to save the open Internet, short of the public making its anger loud and clear. Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T will continue this fight until they win it in the same way that the media companies keep pushing SOPA and PIPA -- proposed laws intended to let the government shut down websites in the name of product piracy -- by attaching it to a trade agreement that the Obama administration plans to reintroduce after the next election.
Still, widescale protests have delayed SOPA and PIPA, so perhaps we can keep the Internet open a bit longer. The FCC is meeting on May 15 to consider its latest proposal on Net neutrality. Write your congressman and senator now and remind them that maybe they could consider your rights a little bit while they cash the carriers' fat campaign check. Tell the FCC now that it needs to regulate the Internet service providers as common carriers, and end the charade that is its "trust us, we'll monitor for bad behavior" current proposal.
There's still time to make a bit of a fuss. Make as much as you can.
This article, "The end of the open Internet is un-American: Take action now!," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.