Net neutrality

I just saw something I've never seen before: a TV commercial attacking net neutrality. Apparently they've started appealing directly to voters now.

I must admit to having some degree of ambivalence about net neutrality. Let's face it: it's just one set of big companies fighting another. Who should pay for the internet: Google or Time Warner? Does it really matter to me which one it is?

Not that I have no opinions on the issue. I'm definitely not a fan of the "tiered" service concept. Discriminating against certain kinds of data doesn't appeal to me either. When you take the money out of the calculation, none of this is good for the end user.

On the other hand, you really can't take the money out of the calculation. And it's not like the service providers don't have a point. Somebody has to pay for the cost of providing bandwidth, and a non-neutral scheme might very well result in lower overall costs and/or lower costs for end-users. At least, that's the claim. I don't claim to know enough about the business to evaluate its truth.

I think the only thing I'm really sure of in this discussion is that getting the government involved is a bad idea. In fact, as a public servant, I take it as a general rule that getting the government involved is nearly always a bad idea. And what with the DMCA and software patents, it's not like the US government has the best track record on technical issues.

So for now, I'm more inclined to let the market decide this issue. Who knows, the non-neutral net might not even be really feasible. We can only hope....

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