The FCC announced last week they will be proposing broad new rules forcing Internet Provides to treat all web traffic equally. It’s an expansion of network neutrality. This is a good move. One I hope they make happen and fend off the critics. I understand the opposition. Internet providers invest billions in infrastructure to build out their networks. I don’t blame them for wanting to exert a little control in order to maximize revenue. The problem is, like the closed mobile networks of the late 90’s and the early 2000’s, when Internet Service Providers control the networks, innovation is stifled; especially in the are of applications.
I’ve been in Telecom and have worked with or for Service Providers for years and they are not built for innovation. All of the SP’s come from some level of monopoly. ATT, Verizon, Qwest, come from the good ole bell system. Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision and Charter, all have a franchise area and don’t have to compete with one another. Competition is NOT what they know. The SP’s know control. They know monopoly and bureaucracy. If left to their own devices they would use their own selfish motivation to promote their own selfish agenda, limiting access to certain websites, blocking competing services etc. They would slowly move to what eventually feel like a closed network.
I am a huge proponent of free markets. Many opponents will tell you that by interfering, you are interfering with free markets, however I disagree. The size and control the carriers have makes it very difficult for smaller, more innovative companies to compete or even have a chance. The SP’s have a history of interfering with commerce. Network neutrality was born in the 90’s when the telephone companies were giving preferential treatment to the connection of their calls vs. an off network carrier. As recently as last year Comcast was slowing traffic for subscribers who were downloading large files. The SP’s have proven they can’t be trusted to guard the hen house.
I don’t want smaller application development start-ups having to ask permission and or pay an SP to be on their network. I don’t want the next Twitter having to ask to be allowed on the ATT network. I don’t want the SP’s having that much control with who gets to play and at what cost. We need to make sure the networks stay open; mobile, broadband, wireless broadband, etc. The SP’s have every right to manage the entrance. They built the network. But once I’m on, get out of the way.
If I’m an SP, I might start thinking about more than just the pipes for once. But hey, that’s just me.