What is “Net Neutrality”, and why should I care?
Those are both very good questions. The latter can be answered easily. Do you frequent websites such as Myspace.com, Youtube.com, or Facebook.com? Do you use a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service such as Skype or Vonage? Do you buy your music from the iTunes music store? Do you sell or buy things on eBay.com? Well then listen up, because you are someone who should care abut “Net Neutrality.”
So what is it? There is a lot of confusion surrounding the concept of “Net Neutrality”. It can be simply defines as the right, as an Internet Service Provider (ISP) customer, to access any information, service, or data that is available on the Internet. It sounds so simple, you must wonder why I am even bringing it up at all, right? Because the major telecom companies want to take it away, and make more profit by crippling your Internet access!
For example, Say you are a Vonage cusomter, and you just so happen to use Comcast as your ISP. Comcast also offers a VOIP service that is directly competeing with Vonage. Comcast would like to block the Vonage service from being accessed by its customers, thereby forcing Comcast customers who want to use VOIP into their own service, Comcast Digital Voice.
What if Verizon offered a music store to its DSL subscribers? Verizon might want to stop you from using services such as the iTunes Music Store and Napster. By blocking these services, the “Verizon Music Store” is your only option for digital music downloads.
From economics we learn, that the ability for the customer to choose, leads to competition among providers, thereby driving the selling price down. This is exactly what the telecom companies don’t like about “Net Neutrality.” By blocking all competing services, not only are you forced to give them your business, but they can charge you whatever amount they want!
So by now you must be wondering, how can this be allowed to happen? At the moment telecom companies are attempting to stop net neutrality for the second time. The attempt was stopped in congress once before. But the people supporting these telecom companies are either payed off, or are just plain ignorant as to how the Internet works. Here is an infamous quote from Senator Ted Steves (R – Alaska) dated Wednesday, June 28 2006, when he was debating an amendment to a bill that would ban telecoms from blocking “Net Neutrality.”
“They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the Internet. And again, the Internet is not something you just dump something on. It’s not a big truck. It’s a series of tubes. And if you don’t understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and it’s going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material”
The Internet should not be neutral because it is a series of tubes? Clearly Mr. Stevens has no idea how the Internet really works, or even worse, what “Net Neutrality” really means. And he is one of our senators who is making decisions about how we should be allowed to use our Internet! Mr. Stevens is also one of the senators who is leading the second attempt to stop “Net Neutrality.”
So what can you do to stop these telecom companies from destroying your Internet? Spread the word about net neutrality. visit http://www.savetheinternet.com for more information about “Net Neutrality” and sign the petition to keep the Internet free. When enough people take action and make their voices heard, we can stop the telecoms in congress and keep our Internet in tact.