Network Neutrality Explained

11 Jul, 2006 | by


(Image Created By:  Kurt Griffith)

The topic is obscure to many, but now beginning to gain more and more traction in the political arena, not to mention public opinion forums. What is network neutrality? and should anyone really care? Rather than try and summarize what it’s all about from my perspective, I think I’ll borrow a nice piece that I recently read in the New York Times and kick off m commentary with that.

The author is Adam Green and he throws in his 2 cents as to why Network Neutrality is so important:

As the New York Times editorialized on July 9, 2006:
“Net neutrality” is a concept that is still unfamiliar to most Americans, but it keeps the Internet democratic. … One of the Internet’s great strengths is that a single blogger or a small political group can inexpensively create a Web page that is just as accessible to the world as Microsoft’s home page. But this democratic Internet would be in danger if the companies that deliver Internet service changed the rules so that Web sites that pay them money would be easily accessible, while little-guy sites would be harder to access and slower to navigate. Providers could also block access to sites they do not like.

Now, back to my earlier rhetorical question…Yes! You should care and if congress has their way, there will be consequences, both expected and unexpected, that will undoubtedly effect each and everyone that is part of our vital internet community. This is not just irrational hyperbole I’m speaking of. This is matter of fact.

Example (one that may resonate with at least 90% of all internet users): The internet offers each and every one of us the powerful ability to search for any type of relevant / irrelevant information our warped little minds can think up. Google has spent years crafting the most sophisticated search engine based on advanced algorithms that comb the net and provide you with links to exactly what you’re looking for. Now, imagine a scenario when users attempt to search and the findings are limited and heavily skewed in the direction that in the best interests of cable companies such as AT&T and Comcast. I’ll only speak to a few of the adverse affects that may arise from this. First, users might not find the best source of information they’re looking for. Think about it, your search pool will be greatly downsized, and the little guys that might have had the information (personal blogs or any type of specialty site) you’re looking for are no longer searchable because they might not be able to afford the fees required to maintain a web presence in the eyes of ISPs.

I’d bet my bottom dollar that these cable companies will primarily cater to the big hitters across all industries and essentially suffocate smaller institutions or individuals.

The second affect is the one you won’t see…At least not right away. It’s one that will be overlooked due to typically corporate greed and their general lack of creativity to enhance their ever draconian business models. These trolls would much rather prefer to play the political game and hope regulation can salvage their practices then grow their business organically. This second affect will eventually become a silent killer seen over time. Much like a poorly structured youth educational system that ultimately yields sub-par contributors to our society. It doesn’t seem like a problem in the first year but compound that over 10 and you can visually see the devastating impact. Although not quite as grave, this effect revolves around one central thought: INNOVATION. Innovation is what brought the internet to us and since then the floodgates have been opened to all virtual entrepreneurs who have endless ideas on everything. What makes the internet so special is its unequivocal unbiased view of its users. If you have something to say and people are interested, guess what, your search ranking goes up, further expanding your global reach because people are interested in the value you’re bringing to the table. Value can be transferred via ideas, services, products, etc. This very process reaches out and facilitates the delicate process of innovation. We all know mega corporations have the resources necessary to innovate but some of the most recent innovations have come from the little guys. Youtube.com for instance was founded by 2 guys both under the age of 25. Facebook was founder by a Stanford undergraduate who was 21 at the time. The list goes on an on. New web starts-ups, blogs, forums, etc start up on the internet every minute of the day. Most fail but does that really matter? Think about it…How many times have you seen one start-up fail, only to have an identical start-up pick up right where the other left off and subsequently prosper? It happens a lot. Those that fail still add value in the name of innovation.

Why tamper with the very essence of what makes the internet so special? Given the ever success in foreign innovation via this high powered global economy, do we really want to relinquish any of our edge? At a macro level, does that even makes sense, just in the name of increased short-term profits for cable companies? It’s almost comical to think about this ridiculous idea congress has come up with. And the above mentioned reasons are just the tip of the iceberg. Here’s a link to a few more items that would be in jeopardy of such legislation is passed. There is no way to truly predict the long-term rippled effects that such a measure will have on our economy. It’s not just our internet freedoms that are at stake here.

There are many others that feel the same way I do. Companies such as Craigslist, MoveOn, Gun Owners of America, Google, eBay, and Amazon are all fighting back. 350,000 people signed a petition demanding Congress preserve Internet freedom, over 2,000 blogs have rallied the public, and even some celebrities are chiming in.

If you want to take a stand and voice your concerns, here are a few things you can do:
1. SIGN a Net Neutrality petition to Congress:
2.
CALL Congress now:
3.
BLOG about this issue, or put our “Save the Internet” logo on your Web site:
4.
MYSPACE: Add “Save the Internet” as a friend:
5.
WRITE A LETTER to Congress:
6.
VISIT our coalition Web site for more information, SavetheInternet.com

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