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Net Neutrality: What It Could Mean

net-neutrality-thumb-550x1224-27419

By David Ponce

We’ve all been hearing a lot about Net Neutrality lately, but a Reddit reader created the above graphic to really try and hit the point home. This is what the Internet could look like if Sen. John McCain and anyone opposed to Net Neutrality have their way. It’s not that far fetched when you think about it. Just look at your own cable setup; it’s the same cable coming into your house, but you sure don’t pay one price to see it all.

Opponents of Net Neutrality are harping an old tune with socialism undertones, along the lines of “the government wants to dip its fingers into everything”. Proponents, well… seem to have a clearer head. What do y’all think?

VIA [ Dvice ]







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  • charliehorse43

    I could do with out this kind of thing.

  • mcman

    I think it's really bugging some bigwigs that they can't get paid for the interweb, including me! Yes, I'm a bigwig and by bigwig I mean I wear a wig and it's big.

  • http://twitter.com/tomlide s.leep

    Thank you for sharing this helpful graphic, really hits the point home.

  • skeptikality

    The internet is not cable and people need to stop comparing it.
    Cable companies have a limited set of channels they can offer. The internet sees hundreds of new sites pop up every day. It is impractical at best for ISPs to categorize and offer a la carte website access. ESPN360 is the only site I am aware of that implements a policy of ISP subscription. Shocked as I am that it has lasted this long, the ISPs simply could not handle even 100 sites doing this. It would raise their operating costs too high which would, of course, be pushed onto the user. Meanwhile, smaller ISPs that do not pander to the ISP-subscription sites will be able to keep their prices much lower.
    There has always been a push from the liberal side of the political scene to make laws that prevent problems. While I support being proactive, I throw more support behind less government involvement in everything. Instead of speculating about problems that may occur and passing laws to prevent them, maybe the problems can be worked out without government intervention. Maybe adults can work things out without a nanny interfering.
    It is market forces that has crafted the internet into what it is today. Although malevolent (read: greedy) entities exist in the market, I believe the market as a whole has a vested interest in keeping the internet universally accessible.

  • chaosoldier

    Hello mr.Man with all the answers. And while I agree, I just had to poke at the rather long explanation.

  • Phlow

    I don't like extensive government intervention, but net neutrality is one of those issues where we absolutely NEED government intervention. Internet providers are simply too big, and too few in number, and there are also too few broadband pipes to support an open internet if the money all goes the other way. Supporting net neutrality will simply ensure that some of these broadband pipes will remain open.

    On a similar note, I've heard lots of people argue that running a small website, like a small business, is no longer economically viable, and we have to accept the fact that large websites are and will continue to dominate the internet. I think the longstanding and continuing existence of sites like OhGizmo contradicts this argument, and sites like OhGizmo also provide an excellent argument for the merits of net neutrality.

  • skeptikality

    “and sites like OhGizmo also provide an excellent argument for the merits of net neutrality.”

    Please qualify this statement. How is OhGizmo currently threatened by the lack of legislation?

  • Phlow

    OhGizmo is an example of a site that would no longer be available, or would be absorbed into another site, if ISPs chose to turn to a subscription based service.

  • Jessicat

    I agree I feel very enlighten. Stop that…lol I try to live under a rock for these bad things. I mean I want that ignorance is bliss when it comes to government. All these people look at things like this and keep going, no one knows all the issues that are going on, but when you do, bring on the stress. I envy the uneducated ones in government. The ones that go.. American Idol is on, all is well…

  • skeptikality

    I do not understand why you think OhGizmo would not be available.
    Do you actually think ISPs will cut the internet down from millions of sites to a handful of sites? You think ISPs will BLOCK sites?
    And as far as being absorbed into another site, that's OhGizmo's owners' decision.

  • Phlow

    YES! That's what net neutrality is all about! Maybe you should do some reading on the issue:

    http://www.google.com/help/netneutrality.html

  • skeptikality

    Sorry, this text box didn't adequately convey the tone of my question.
    I mean, you *actually* believe that your ISP will block access to my site? You realize, of course, that as soon as they did that you and I would both sue the pants, socks, and boxers off of them.
    A more plausible scenario is that preferential treatment would be given to traffic to/from the ISPs “parter sites”. So Disney's site would load videos faster and in higher quality than Bob's Basement Videos dot Com.

  • Phlow

    Perhaps, but why shouldn't we take action to prevent either of those scenarios from occurring?

  • skeptikality

    Counterpoint: Why must we make laws for problems that do not exist? I am not against legislation if the problem presents itself. But certainly no sooner.
    Every time the government gets involved they go too far, create loop holes, and add a layer of bureaucracy. The end result is never their pie-in-the-sky ideal they promoted to their constituency and is often ineffectual.

  • bleicher

    SO lets see – having it the way it is now, or pay 70$ for the same? WTF?
    Why should one pay 70$ to get access to youtube, last.fm and ebay and so on?

  • Phlow

    Not sure if I've done this before, but after having this conversation with you and doing a little research, I think i've *gasp* changed my mind! Your argument makes more sense than any other I've heard against net neutrality, and its supported by people like Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight

    I've seen this graphic before, and while I did think it seemed a bit melodramatic, it made me fearful about losing the internet I hold dear! However, it seems like these fears are overblown, and if the problem does end up existing, we can deal with it then. Hopefully cooler heads like yours will prevail on both sides of the issue, and people will tackle the issue reasonably if it actually arises, rather than fear-mongering and taking the extremist route like the graphic displayed here.

  • skeptikality

    Fear-mongering and taking the extremist route is how political players make their causes seem noble and just.

    I hate getting political on the web… But I enjoyed the discourse. Thanks! :)

  • dponce80

    Hi Skeptikality. I don't think it's right to frame the problem at the ISP level. ISPs are nothing but bandwidth resellers, connected to large Internet backbones such as Qwest, Level 3 Communications, AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, etc. While your argument is correct that it would make no sense for ISPs to arbitrarily filter access to different websites, a lack of Net Neutrality would probably not affect us in that particular way.

    Instead, we're hearing from the large NAPs or backbones (Qwest, ATT, etc. mentioned above, of which there are only a few) that they believe some websites (think Google) are using up a large chunk of their bandwidth and their infrastructure while paying essentially the same thing smaller sites such as mine are.

    And while for a minute it would seem to make sense to allow them to charge more for users that need more, the problem with that is that at any moment they can turn the situation on its head. What happens when the network becomes SO congested that only “premium” sites with large bandwidth needs are able to pay for acceptable levels of traffic? They keep breezing along, while the smaller guys who are unable to pay for this kind of bandwidth experience a slowdown. Kind of like the carpool lane for the internet, only you need to be a major corporation with tons of cash in order to get in.

    That's, in a nutshell, the problem with Net Neutrality, and why it's important to keep the nature of the Internet as it's been since its inception. Saying we should implement laws after a problem arises is tricky because once a business practice becomes accepted, it's hard to retroactively take it away. Just look at how the health insurance companies are kicking around at the prospect of having to adjust things they've been doing for years (like the pre-existing condition business).

    In any case, just my two cents.

  • esarphie

    Okay… here's the silliness. That whole scary thing that'll happen if net neutrality is NOT passed? That's now.

    Right now.

    Today.

    You're reading this on your big scary, evil, end-of-the-world, ohmygod hidden evil telecom company fees are EVERYWHERE non-neutral internet, RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!

    It's one thing to hype the fear factor on the possible outcome of future untested legislation, but doing it for the way things are?????

    Net neutrality may be good, may be bad, but my years on the internet seem to indicate that it's completely unecessary. If they want to pass a law saying the have to disclose bandwidth throttling, that'd be fine, but since I can (and have) change between cable, dsl, fiber optic systems, or simply flip carriers at will, I feel pretty secure with the way things are… if I don't like what my provider does, I've got a lot of other choices.

    Or, to put it another way, I like to see a demonstrated NEED for new federal laws before they get written.

  • salhepatica

    Your headline isn't very good — it falls under the same sort of confusion that allows Sen. McCain and his telco henchment to pretend that net neutrality means letting telcos do any damn thing they like, when it means the exact opposite. The headline “Net Neutrality: What It Could Mean,” followed by that very excellent graphic, makes it look like net neutrality WILL LEAD to the situation in the picture, when net neutrality would PREVENT it from happening.

  • oneteam

    Your comparison to cable companies is actually ironic. Their business strategies will be changing and evolving as the internet allows people to access these same programs directly from the content providers and bypassing the cable company in the process, using the internet. So, their tier pricing will become less and less viable. The internet is the exact thing that will keep tier pricing from happening because it is open. If one provider is starting to gouge people for access to certain things, another one will take their business. Think AOL circa 1999. They gouged people for perceived value added content. Once people were saavy enough, they went elsewhere. We DON'T need the government in this instance. Let the market take care of itself. Have faith in the open, free market. (Don't get me started on healthcare.)

  • dubzilla

    This was a great post to read the comments on. Honestly I really was not informed about the issue. it was interesting to read the different post. However, I'm not sure that waiting until there is an issue is the best path to take. I think that from a business point of view. It would be advantageous for the providers. they could charge more money for the different of “tiers” of access that people want. Also they could charge websites more to be on a tier that had more access, giving them more advertising clout. If this issue way tied up after the fact (by the government) it might take enough time that the smaller websites that we all love could go under.

    The picture scares me.

  • oneteam

    Your comparison to cable companies is actually ironic. Their business strategies will be changing and evolving as the internet allows people to access these same programs directly from the content providers and bypassing the cable company in the process, using the internet. So, their tier pricing will become less and less viable. The internet is the exact thing that will keep tier pricing from happening because it is open. If one provider is starting to gouge people for access to certain things, another one will take their business. Think AOL circa 1999. They gouged people for perceived value added content. Once people were saavy enough, they went elsewhere. We DON'T need the government in this instance. Let the market take care of itself. Have faith in the open, free market. (Don't get me started on healthcare.)

  • dubzilla

    This was a great post to read the comments on. Honestly I really was not informed about the issue. it was interesting to read the different post. However, I'm not sure that waiting until there is an issue is the best path to take. I think that from a business point of view. It would be advantageous for the providers. they could charge more money for the different of “tiers” of access that people want. Also they could charge websites more to be on a tier that had more access, giving them more advertising clout. If this issue way tied up after the fact (by the government) it might take enough time that the smaller websites that we all love could go under.

    The picture scares me.

  • Mikazukinoyaiba

    I don't understand how this guy ever thought the “free market” would take care of anything, despite that already it is the “free market” that has allowed telecos to screw consumers in Cable, Satellite, Cell Phones, and Texting for years.

    Even further what is with this argument that the internet will change cable?!? Does he realize that isn't the friggin point of this damn article, yeah when your ISP does something you don't like you can change, except for in cases where they are the ONLY ISP IN YOUR AREA and you'd have to move in order to get a new one.

    Or what to do when every ISP does the same, afterall you can't abstain from having the internet. Denialism and faith in the free market.

    http://www.readwriteweb.com/ar