The Importance of Net Neutrality

If you don't like the railroad, buy some road and lay your own tracks. If you can't turn a profit and get investors, then no one wants your railroad anyway.

Bollocks. “Infrastructure” is something you only need one of, and that innovative services rely on. Once it’s there, you can’t practically compete with it, and it would be an enormous waste of resources to do so — resources that could be better spent innovating. Some things aren’t best provided by pure competition, and infrastructure is one of them. Thus it needs to be managed as a shared resource, so that there’s a solid, reliable, fair base for everyone to innovate on top of.


Well, you seem to think that wires are the only way to connect are to the internet (and competition between those wires are indeed limited). But this is a current situation which will most likely change in the future to radio waves. So the answer is more competition, especially between wireless carriers, rather than more government control. Once government takes control over something, it will be very difficult to persuade them to give up this control.


“Net Neutrality” destroys innovation.

Scenario: to get some of that sweet fast bandwidth, you need to pay every major ISP an amount of money. Depending on your service, bandwidth needed and the economical position of your product relative to the ISP’s or mother company’s, this can amount to some serious cash.

Google can pay up. Microsoft can as well, as can Apple, major newspapers, media portals etc.

Internet startup Great Idea Inc. cannot. The startup cost will just be too high. Since we’re moving to more bandwidth hungry apps like online video instead of lean ones, costs will rise. Great Idea Inc. has a web2.0 tagging social video cloud (as you can see, it IS a great idea!) so it will use up a lot of bandwidth. Large ISPs now hold this small company ransom; if they want their new product to be usable or even reachable by the subscribers, they’ll have to pay up. And no, they cannot move to another ISP because we’re talking about ISPs on the receiving end.

Yet you argue that NN somehow stifles innovation.

For a real world example, see YouTube. Now part of the Google empire, but would have failed if they would have had to pay for bandwidth twice (not just on their sending end).

Also, to all the people arguing that “the pipe belongs to the ISP” I thought the pipe was largely paid for and maintained by tax payer money.


Well, this topic certainly seems to be a controversial one!
Personally I am surprised at the amount of pro-ISP, anti neutrality comments I’m seeing, especially for a tech blog.

I’ll just throw this graphic in as I think it paints a particularly disturbing possible future if ISPs continue to have their way. (I did not create this image and I don’t know who did - I’m just hosting my own copy as I find it comes in handy quite often).


The “Hush a Phone” needs to be resurrected for cell phones for people talking very loud in public places. The plastic part wouldn’t be able to attach to a small ceel so would need a “Bluetooth Hush a Phone” which, when worn, would look like one of those funnels worn by an injured dog ;).


I’m surprised that no one has pointed out that net neutrality* kills babies. Surely that’s a more important argument than “net neutrality** requires all packets to be treated the same way” or “net neutrality** makes QoS illegal.”

  • Assuming you incorrectly define the phrase net neutrality to mean “killing babies” in order to win an argument.
    ** Assuming you incorrectly define the phrase net neutrality to mean “treating all packets the same way without regard to QoS issues or protocol” in order to win an argument.

Great article. Also check out the Carterphone.


I find it interesting how a good number of you are stating “regulation destroys innovation!” Please cite some examples, because it sounds like you are hiding behind the “slippery-slope” fallacy.

I quite agree with Remmelt, while the concept will probably not hinder those sites that already have traffic, new sites or services will now have additional costs that WILL hamper innovation.


You missed the whole thing. The problem facing the hush-a-phone was regulation, not lack of it. Regulation rarely actually enhances freedom. I am all for net neutrality. I just doubt that the government regulation is the right way to get there. Most likely, it will look like neutrality, but have huge unintended consequences. The real answer is competition. I have at least 4 ISP’s that can serve my house. This is even more amazing considering that I live on several acres 15 miles from the nearest town. That is how you really fix the problem.


One of the Telecom industries greatest weapons against Net Neutrality is misinformation.

For instance, as shown in the comment above, the Telecoms have successfully managed to confuse not discriminating based on the source of data (i.e. Google or YouTube) with not discriminating based on the type of service (VoIP, HTTP).

True Net Neutrality is the former, not the latter. It’s fine to discriminate by traffic type as long as you don’t discriminate based on source.

And before you claim this is a “problem for the future,” Comcast and AT&T have already tried to charge Google, etc… for the Google traffic Comcast/AT&T deliver to their customers.

This is despite the fact that Google has already paid (or not depending on the agreement) with its peers to interconnect with them.
See: Interconnect agreement on Wikipedia:


I think it is probable that a lot of the anti-neutrality, pro-huge-corporation comments are astro-turf, being payed for by huge cooperations.


Sorry, Jeff. I couldn’t disagree with you more.

In fact, let me be blunt. You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

Government intrusion and regulation is always a limiting factor in the growth of free enterprise. Yes, it’s necessary in events where you might otherwise kill or harm someone, or where the very lack of regulation might inhibit such growth.

None of those cases apply in even the tiniest way here.

You might look at these, but some of it is far too overtly political, and the truth here really has nothing to do with politics:

I can sum up in just a couple sentences why Net Neutrality may be one of the worst ideas in recent history.

Net Neutrality advocates claim that they need internet freedom to protect them from evil ISP’s controlling what they can and can’t see and from making them pay extra in order to see certain parts of the web, but not others.

However, every net neutrality idea proposed does absolutely nothing to solve that issue. In fact, they almost certainly make the situation worse. All that happens under net neutrality is that the control of what you can do on the internet moves from public companies who have a vested interest in making you happy and making as much accessible as possible, to the government, which has no interest in doing either.

The only vested interest ANY government ever has is increasing its own power by control of information. Net neutrality is a big step in that direction. And I submit that if you think that’s a good idea, then you have lost your mind.

I will fight against net neutrality until my last dying breath.


As a bit of an aside, I’m really glad you mentioned Brazil. It would have really bothered me that I recognized the name, “Harry Tuttle,” but couldn’t quite figure out from where.

Now, had you mentioned Sam Lowry, on the other hand, I would have gotten it right away. (So here’s a bonus question, who the heck was Jeremiah Tuttle? (ereiamjh was the password to the director’s office) Maybe not everything has a secondary meaning though)


The Internet politics is done by coding, not by talking or passing laws (which are still very important, but just as oil is still very important).

That does not mean, as you can imagine, that programmers will rule the world (thank god). The fact that you can get a piece of code to run doesn’t mean you have any idea of its real impact in the world. In fact, chances are you don’t.

Having said that, things are probably gonna get worse before they get better, when we finally discredit software production as an industry, and understand what is our responsibility.


Holy crap.

So we have unelected bureaucrats at the FCC deciding unanimously that it can regulate one of the most important innovations in the history of humanity.

The FCC, which went ape*t over Janet Jackson’s flapjack was broadcast on the Superbowl, which has a history of standing in the way of innovation (re: Sirius/XM merger) and a long love of censorship.

And, to top it all off, we have politicians TRYING to give the power to the President to turn it all off with a flick of a switch. Kinda like is happening in the middle east, right now.

And its all based on exactly what? The possibility that a company may do something bad?

I’d trust Anonymous’ DDOS more than some unelected sycophantic bureaucrat protecting us from some crony-capitalist company that gave the party of the bureaucrat a million during the last election cycle.

This. Is. A. Dumb. Idea.


Oh, and to counter Matthew Scouten above,

I think it is probable that a lot of the pro-FCC-takeover, pro-statist comments are astro-turf, being payed for by political organizations that stand to reap power from the takeover and fat cash from their cronies by ensuring their competition gets weeded out.


“Net Neutrality” as a slogan may be a good idea, but I have grave doubts about it as a matter of law. I have grave doubts about the government’s ability to enforce it.

Or rather, I fear that any legislation that gives some group of government bureaucrats the authority to regulate “net neutrality” will end up with their establishing a corporate oligarchy with rigid control over content, in the “public interest”.

Just because the FCC is supposed to use the powers we’ll have given it to promote openness, doesn’t mean it will use them to do so. Or at least, not according to any definition of the word that we’d recognize.


Amen, brother Jeff! Keep the Feds and the moralists out of my internet.
If you guys haven’t heard of COICA, then you need to look at this.

Official Bill

Huffington Post article:

It is proposed as a way to protect copyright holders, but it’s a slippery slope to China’s way of blocking out the content that the government doesn’t want you to see and it’s stifling innovation.

The White House Asks: What’s Blocking Innovation in America? - My Answer: IP Laws

Just my ten cents.


I continue to find it amusing how after the gross malfeasance of companies like MCI, Tyco, and Enron, people continue to think that corporations are good and just and the government is evil. I wonder what it will take for the masses to finally understand that corporations are interested in one thing and one thing only, profits. If they can get them by laying us all off, shipping our jobs to India, and making us pay for anything beyond email traffic, they’ll do it. They need to be reigned in.


“I wonder what it will take for the masses to finally understand that corporations are interested in one thing and one thing only, profits.”

Of course they are. If they were interested in anything else, they’d be far more dangerous.

“If they can get them by laying us all off, shipping our jobs to India, and making us pay for anything beyond email traffic, they’ll do it.”

Why should they bother to do that, when they can just dream up some attractive buzzword and use it to push a bill through Congress that will allow them to eliminate their competition in a perfectly legal manner?

“They need to be reigned in.”

Trying to use big government to control big business is a contradiction in terms. They are two sides of the same coin.

We can’t regulate ourselves to freedom.