Thursday, March 01, 2007

More reservations about network neutrality legislation proposals


Vince Vasquez has an interesting "Viewpoint" in the Feb. 28, 2007 DC Examiner, p. 17, "Getting all tangled up in government's 'net neutrality'", at this link.

He makes the point that in the earlier days of the Internet, especially as many newbies like me got started building content-rich websites (like during the 1997-2001 period, roughly) traffic was lower, although it increased rapidly as search engines started getting much more efficient around 1998. In those days, a 56K modem, often on a second landline phone line, was a satisfactory way to maintain connectivity. Today, a high speed cable or wireless connection is necessary just to maintain all of the security updates that companies like Microsoft, Apple, Sun, and anti-virus vendors push automatically all the time.

Vasquex likens differentiated charges for extremely high volume providers (and that might include server farms run by search engine companies) is similar to charging turnpike tolls in the physical world. It is sometimes necessary. Remember the sign on the PA turnpike, "taxes don't pay for improvement; tolls do!" (And taking out those interesting tunnels is not necessarily improvement!)

The writer believes that the fiduciary responsibility of telecommunications providers will act as a practical brake upon their discriminating against small businesses in any unreasonable way. They will still have to answer to public opinion, even if the Internet Freedom Protection Act does not put them under the regulation of a politicized federal bureaucracy.

Scott Cleland has a similar op-ed on p A16 of The Washington Times (March 1), "America's Unique Internet success" in which he argues that net neutrality would force one bandwidth tier of internet service, subsidizing the big search engines.