FCC's Open Internet Order bodes ill for Net neutrality

The startlingly poor compromise on Net neutrality may do more harm than good for users in the long run

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All ISPs are built on the economy of scale. Back in the day, a 5,000-user dialup ISP had only about 1,000 modems because it was exceedingly rare that more than 12 percent of all users were online at one time. When those ISPs started having problems with busy signals, they added modems.

Today, that ratio is similar. When Comcast, Verizon, and other ISPs offer the world, they're figuring you'll never use the bandwidth they promise. They sell you 20Mb/1Mb packages assuming you'll never actually use the capacity. They offer higher-speed plans catering to people who occasionally download OS updates and the odd album from iTunes. They've sold you such a package, banking on the fact you'll never actually use it.

Then a company like Netflix comes along, and you're using maybe 30 percent of what they've sold you, and that's a big problem for the providers. It's such a major issue, they're moving heaven and earth to make sure that laws are passed giving them the right -- or the leeway -- to either shut off your connection or charge you exorbitant rates to use the bandwidth they've already promised.

Instead of adding more capacity and potentially reducing shareholder returns, they're trying to castrate the Internet. We're all complicit if we stand by and take it.

If that's not bad enough, the enemies of Net neutrality are poised to block even this half-assed attempt. Texas Sen. Bailey Hutchison has already come out in strong opposition of this bill and plans on fighting it. I cannot imagine how she could possibly think that allowing carriers to run roughshod over what sites and services their customers can use while demanding payment from both sides is a good idea. It's the exact opposite of what the Internet was developed for, and it makes no sense whatsoever.

It has been said that if everyone is unhappy, then you've done your job. Not this time -- there's only one way the American public can win this battle, and that's if the carriers lose. They cannot be trusted with unregulated stewardship of the Internet in the United States, as they've proven time and again.

This story, "FCC's Open Internet Order bodes ill for Net neutrality," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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