Net Neutrality is freaking me out

Tim Berners=Lee

Tim Berners-Lee weighs in on net neutrality:

Net Neutrality: This is serious | Decentralized Information Group (DIG) Breadcrumbs

Net neutrality is this:

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.

That's all. Its up to the ISPs to make sure they interoperate so that that happens.

Net Neutrality is NOT asking for the internet for free.

Net Neutrality is NOT saying that one shouldn't pay more money for high quality of service. We always have, and we always will.

The thing that freaks *me* out is that you will never know if your traffic is being discriminated against. This is going to end up like frequent-flyer miles and credit card rebates and grocery store cards. Really complicated stupid rebate programs that are supposed to make you loyal to a company but just make the cost of business more expensive and complicating all decisions involving the product which ends up hurting people that don't have time or the intelligence to figure it all out. I mean who really thinks grocery cards were invented to save you money?

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Why is this a big deal?

If there is not a guarantee of net neutrality, then AT&T can tell Google that they will get traffic at 50% the rate that Microsoft Search gets traffic unless they pay AT&T a "premium traffic fee".

Alternatively, Comcast can charge consumers tiered Internet access plans like they do with cable. You can surf CNN for $10.00 a month. You can surf premium tier 2 which includes ESPN and for $15.00. If you want unlimited access to all websites, then it will cost $30.00 a month. But even if you pay $30.00 a month, it's not clear that all sites will be as fast as others because of the first point above.

It's just a bad road to go down. It makes everything better for the network companies because it confuses the consumers into paying more money.

Similarly, regarding grocery store prices: It is clear that grocery stores charge their "free-market" prices to people with cards. The non-card prices are artificially inflated to punish people who don't go along with their card program. The card program allows them to track your shopping across multiple stores in their chain and possibly across different chains (e.g., Giant plus ACE hardware) The result is that the grocery stores end up offering different prices to different people. They do this by sending coupons to some customers and not to others and by giving "cash-back" bonuses to some customers and not to others. It erodes a free-market exchange of goods. It would be the same thing as Amazon offering different prices to different people by presenting different web pages to them. The bottom line is that it puts huge amounts of market power in the hands of the companies who leverage it to get more money from consumers (you). There is no corresponding capability for the consumers to push back to get the market back in line with an efficient exchange.

Posted by: DJP3 at June 26, 2006 9:32 AM

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