Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Net Neutrality

The FCC's new ‘Net Neutrality’ rules have created a lot of noise  recently. Admittedly, the concept has been so fuzzed up it is hard to understand. Who can forget the memorable talk about net neutrality by former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens (now deceased) in the Senate?


Republican Mitch McConnell has strongly criticized the new rules along with Rush Limbaugh, buffoon though he may be. Don't kid yourself - Limbaugh has plenty of influence with many people who don’t think for themselves and eagerly buy into his nonsense. Many other so-called ‘conservatives’ are also exercised about the new net neutrality rules. Why?

Short answer: They, along with some ‘conservative’ Democrats are all in the pockets of the telecom companies who stand to make billions by up-charging for increased bandwidth and speed. That is already being done by one telecom company (Comcast).

Here’s a hypothetical conversation between a Progressive and a Conservative which tries to make it more understandable (thanks to an anonymous poster on DailyKos):

Progressive: "Comcast is one of the largest internet providers in the country. In many parts of the country, including where I live, it is the only option for broadband service. NBC was just sold to Comcast. As such, Comcast has a very real and demonstrable need to promote NBC and MSNBC over competitors. You're saying it should be legal for Comcast to limit access to Fox News videos and FoxNews.com, and increase bandwidth for MSNBC videos and MSNBC.com?"

Conservative: "But they wouldn't actually do that. It'd be a PR nightmare if they just blocked access to Fox."

Progressive:  "Ah, but that's not how'd they do it. They'd do what they already do, what cell phone companies have done for years: they'd exempt NBC/MSNBC from your bandwidth allotment. Just like AT&T subscribers can call other AT&T subscribers for free, unlimited, but you're charged by the minute when you talk to people on other networks."

Conservative: "What's wrong with that? It's probably cheaper for carrier customers to talk within the same carrier."

Progressive: "Perhaps, but the same would go for MSNBC shows. Comcast would be getting 100% of that ad revenue to stream MSNBC shows and display MSNBC content. They would be getting 0% of the ad revenue for Fox News and FoxNews.com. Bandwidth to Fox websites costs them money, and bandwidth to MSNBC websites makes them money."

Conservative: "So you think they'd purposely speed up MSNBC and slow down Fox?"

Progressive: "Without Net Neutrality, there's no reason they couldn't do that, which is reason enough to support it. But what Comcast is proposing is that they'll charge by bandwidth, say, 20GBs transfer per month, but exempt NBC.com, MSNBC.com, and other web traffic that they own. Like Verizon does with vCast now. They'll say 'oh, we're not blocking access to Fox -- we're just giving you unlimited free use to MSNBC instead as part of your package.' So naturally, people will be much more likely to get their news and opinion from MSNBC, which is free, as opposed to Fox, which counts against their bandwidth credit."

Conservative:  "Well obviously they'd have to make that illegal."

Progressive: "THAT'S. WHAT. NET. NEUTRALITY. IS!!!"

"The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness"

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