Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Net neutrality for dummies

Somehow net neutrality has turned into a partisan issue (I realize that Republicans tend to favor "business interests" but there are powerful business interests on both sides). And with the FCC poised to issue rules to protect net neutrality, I was curious what rightwing bloggers were saying about it. Via Memorandum I found this post and, not surprisingly, the author does not understand what the net neutrality rules will do, at least not if he thinks this is an illustrative example:
I pay for a slightly faster Internet speed that the usual Time Warner package, but I see no need for the fastest of the fast. People and private entities can pay for multiple different speeds at different prices. Not to be ageist, but many seniors feel no need for anything but the slowest speed (typically 768kbs), as they are not cruising around and downloading videos and such. People choose the speed that works for them.
Net neutrality rules will not affect people's ability to buy (or not buy) faster connections to the internet from ISPs. Net neutrality forbids ISPs from discriminating among the content they provide to subscribers. Mr. Teach will still be allowed to choose his "slightly faster" internet speed and his hypothetical old farts will still be able to choose the slowest speeds. What it will prevent is Time Warner from selling Mr. Teach a specific download speed but then throttling the actual speed that Mr. Teach can watch Netflix because Time Warner and Netflix get into some kind of dispute. In a sense, this will really just guarantee that Mr. Teach gets what he pays for. If Time Warner promises to provide 20 Mbps and Mr. Teach pays for that speed, the rule would prevent Time Warner from deciding to only give him speeds of 3Mbps for accessing particular web sites that fall out of Time Warner's favor.

(Teach also doesn't seem to know that net neutrality is what governed the internet from its creation until a few years ago when the court struck down the prior net neutrality rule. Most of the innovations in the internet grew under a net neutrality regime)