I was going to blog about “infrared” BBQing this morning, but just got fed up with the whole “Net Neutrality” debate, and so here goes. BBQ post tomorrow. A couple of weeks back I read an article that for the first time I’ve seen or heard, addresses all the issues—not just the slant the left (predominantly) wants you to have.
I set it aside, for then, listening for if I would ever see or hear the thing fully addressed. I’ll begin by saying that this is one rare instance where I’m actually undecided—setting aside my contention that all such matters ought be worked out by markets unencumbered by State regulations whatsoever. Since that ain’t happenin’ any time soon, here’s why I’m undecided given the landscape as it is.
- The Net Neutrality folks with their “all data is created equal” stance are essentially arguing for socialization of the costs of running the Internet. The person who does nothing but stream video pays the same as the person who only reads books or other predominantly textual material online. On the other hand, data costs will probably come down over time and things will probably sort; and if data costs are low enough to people, then it becomes an exercise in arguing over some people subsidizing others to the tune of a few bucks in real terms. Bigger fish.
- On the other, other hand, the bigger issue to me is subsidizing in time and aggravation, waiting 20 second more for a text page to load because all data is equal, steaming video packets competing with exponentially fewer text data packets. And, as is typically the case with socialist schemes, it’s ok that everyone is miserable (FTA takes 20 seconds more to load, Parks & Recreation skips when Ron Swanson fans watch it over Netflix) so long as everyone is equally miserable.
- Establishing other tiers of service, as has been proposed, will allow for companies and their customers to simply: pay more because they use more. You should be familiar with this concept. If not, check out the meters on your house for electricity, gas, and water—or at the gas pump when you fill ‘er up. This is already happening in wireless. Where it used to be I paid per minute for phone calls and had “unlimited” data, it’s now reverse. Phone calls are flat rate, unlimited in the US, but I pay for data. Because I rarely go over one gig on my phone—because I pay attention to WiFi—my wireless bill has actually gone down.
- I very seriously doubt that selling Netflix, Facebook, Hulu, or the companies that deal in streaming video ads a higher tier of service is going to compromise other publishers, their readers and customers…and it’s highly possible that technically “differentiating” these packets from the general Internet will speed things up for everyone. After all, even today, if you are finding that things seem to be slower and slower, it’s likely because these vastly different data demands are undifferentiated.
- On the other rest of the hands I have—and I’ve not chewed on this—it may be possible that this move is in anticipation to virtually all video being served via the Internet instead of traditional cable or satellite. Seen your cable or satellite bill lately? On the other hand, you now have Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, video rentals in iTunes, etc., and by-and-large, unless you have specific desires (like live sports) you can only get from the dinosaur companies, you can get by far cheaper on just an Internet connection and these new services. Gonna take a bite out of cable and satellite revenue for sure. Gotta make it up somewhere. On even one more other hand, I sense that a big shakeup is coming on how all of these contacts and services work in total and it’s difficult to even imagine. For a clue, observe how the recording industry has radically changed since Napster originally disrupted the whole thing, and now with Pandora, Spotify, Apple, and all the others.
So, here’s two points of view, so at least you can consider all the facts and not just the ones the ignorant and socialist want you to consider; because, after all, everything has to be a war all the time, all corporations are always evil all of the time, and all government is good and benevolent all the time.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Now, this is funny as hell, but alas, you’re getting only the Big Bad Corporations angle.
A very nicely done article by Karl Denninger of Market Ticker: The Net Neutrality Debacle: A Submission To The FCC. Mr. Denninger is a former internet service provider from back in the early, dial-up days in the Chicago area. He may not raise every single issue, but it’s a sure sight better than anything I’ve seen elsewhere. There’s lots of excellent bits to excerpt, but I had to pick one.
Let’s take the Internet “neutrality” position out of cyber-space and into the physical world. We’ll assume that I develop a really innovative movie theater that immerses the viewer in some new way in the film they are seeing. We’ll also assume that this theater only works financially if I can manage to get 10,000 people into it for each showing; the cost of building and operating it is large enough that unless I can amortize those costs over that many people I will lose money and eventually go bankrupt.
Whose responsibility should it be to construct the roads, infrastructure and parking lots so as to be able to fill that theater every two hours during the business day, efficiently directing traffic into and out of the complex so that I can attempt to make a profit? Should that cost fall on the persons who watch the movies (whether directly via fees on their use of the infrastructure or indirectly via my ticket prices, with the city assessing me for the necessary improvements) or should I be able to force everyone in the Chicago area to pay those expenses, whether they want to watch movies in my theater or not, by convincing the City Government to increase property and gasoline taxes?
This is the essence of the problem we face today with the Internet.
I encourage you to read the whole thing and share it around if you think people ought to be considering all of the relevant arguments, not just one. Also feel free to link to other resources in comments that attempt to deal with the matter more objectively.