Net neutrality is currently a hot-button and very important issue. For the four of you who have been living under a rock for the past... while, I'll explain what it is. Net neutrality is the idea that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should have no right to restrict the internet.
Now, most people are totally for net neutrality; however, the main reason for this is because they haven't really thought it through. Net neutrality=unfettered access to internet=free porn for life. Thus, most people who use the internet are totally for it. After all, what else is there to look at besides porn?
But if you look past your own preferences, you can see that the issue isn't as cut and dried as you think.
Before we get into the meat and potatoes of the issue, let's define the current battle. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has undisputed control over all wired methods of communications, such as phone lines and wired internet. So the only thing being disputed right now is wireless internet, and by "wireless" I do not mean WiFi. I mean 3G and 4G. ISPs want to be able to regulate the content, and potentially restrict said content.
Moving on. ISPs are a BUSINESS in a FREE MARKET ECONOMY. They aren't a charity organization dedicated to giving the internet deprived as much content as possible for as little as possible. They exist to get as much profit as they can. ISPs aren't people, they're companies. This is basic capitalism, so if you can't wrap your head around this part, then you should leave America. Go to China; I hear they have good egg rolls.
Since we've established ISPs as corporations/businesses in a FREE MARKET ECONOMY, what is their product? Oh, that's right! Internet!
They sell internet. Now, think about a carpenter. His name happens to be Leslie. But leave him alone. He's gotten too much crap about his name over the years AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY MORE!! Um, I mean, he won't. So Leslie makes tables. And he has this standard dining room table. But then he thinks to himself, I'm going to carve a little wood off the corners. And raise the price. But I'll tell my consumers about it, so that they'll be appraised of the situation. Would you say Leslie (DON'T LAUGH) has the right to do that?
If you said no, you don't believe in capitalism.
If you said yes, why is that different from the net neutrality battle? After all, both BUSINESSES exist to make money in a FREE MARKET ECONOMY, and they both want to change the product they sell to the masses.
Here are some questions you may ask (and ones I've been asked):
1. But if ISPs can restrict internet, those big corporations can gain monopolies through advertisement 'n' shit!
2. The FCC can regulate all methods of communication!
3. Eliminating net neutrality would result in massive price hikes for the consumer!
4. ISPs all already almost monopolies in different regions. Take away net neutrality, and you'll fuck shit up!
Here are some answer to those questions:
1. Gaining an advantage in advertisement is a part of capitalism. And I'm sure the FCC would pass something to prevent ISPs from wantonly blocking websites OR being paid to block specific sites.
2. No they can't.
3. Only people who don't understand basic economics would say that. In a FREE MARKET ECONOMY, there's something called "price elasticity." It's the quantification of how consumers respond to price changes. In an elastic economy, with an elastic good, price increases result in a decrease of revenue. And in a situation like this, where wireless internet (not WiFi, just 3G or 4G et al) is a luxury good with many cheaper substitutes such as the newer MiFis and good ol' fashioned WiFi, major price increases are a BAD idea. Businesses like these know this. So I don't really think they will raise the prices that much, if at all.
4. Not really. In my town, TWC is the only available option, so they're already monopolies. They could raise prices if they wanted. But they know they can't. Also, there are no monopolies on the 3G network by region. So the question doesn't even make sense.
However, many of you probably have noticed by now that there is one substantial question, the most important, and the root of the situation, that I've left out. And that is censorship. Restricting the information flow is a bad thing. It brings us one step closer to countries like China and North Korea.
But remember, WiFi is still regulated by the FCC, so the internet as we know it wouldn't change that much at all. MiFi sales will go up, depending on how much the 3G networks change in price and product, but the internet will remain an unrestricted flow of information.
Please, give me your thoughts on this issue. Has this blog given you some new thoughts or a better understanding of the issues? Do you agree or disagree? Why?