The other day President Obama said that the FCC should enforce strict net neutrality rules on the Internet. Obviously, the internet providers like Comcast went nuts. They were seconded by the Canadian Senator Ted Cruz. To show just how stupid Cruz really is, he tweeted that the “internet should not operate at the speed of government.” But, for the vast majority of internet users, that is exactly what ending net neutrality will do.
The ISP providers have a practice of charging companies for where they show up on search engines. I have some first hand experience with that. Back in the 90s, I started a small one-man consulting business. I had my own web site. If I wanted to have my company show up on search engines’ first page, I had to pay hundreds of dollars to the provider.
If I wanted my company to show up in those little boxes at the top, I would have had to pay thousands of dollars. That is bad enough. But, now ISP providers want to establish “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” all based on how much you are willing to pay them.
It works this way. If you pay the exorbitant fees, you can have your information put in the high-speed “fast lanes” so people can access your information quicker. If you cannot afford to pay those high fees, your content will be placed in the “slow lanes”. Or, as Cruz would put it “operating at the speed of government.”
We are already faced with the ISP companies enjoying monopoly status. Most people in the country only have a couple of providers to choose from to get their service. Local laws have made competition for the internet providers almost non-existent in their communities just like cable. That has already allowed the providers to charge high fees just to get on the internet. Now, they want to “target” what we can research through their new rip-off.
But why all the fuss? The fuss is over dollars. The internet turned out to be something that is actually democratic. Anyone with information they wish to share can put it on the internet and millions of people can access that information. The internet has actually become a necessary part of our infrastructure. It allows research for homework, business, and entertainment.
The plutocrats see it as a money-maker. By segregating the internet content into “fast” and “slow” lanes, they can make huge profits. Companies like Wal-Mart and the Koch Brothers, are not too concerned about paying those fees. They can afford them (and take a tax deduction for them as well). But start-up companies and most small businesses cannot afford such high fees.
So, the providers would:
- Rather than having one big broadband “freeway” open for transporting everyone’s Internet content, the ISP giants intend to create a special system of lanes for high-speed traffic.
- This express lane will be made available to those who want to rush their information/view points/programs/etc. to the public and to get greater visibility for their content by having it separated from the mass clutter of the freeway.
- The ISPs will charge a premium price to those who want their content transported via this special Internet toll-lane system.
I have not heard one single Republican talk in favor of net neutrality. Everyone who has talked about it calls it more government regulation. I guess if you have the government tell companies they cannot “rig the system” in their favor, that is called regulation. If these same companies are allowed to regulate what you can see at high-speed, that is called the “free marketplace”.
But, don’t kid yourselves. This is all about money. It is about companies using their monopolies to garner more profit at your expense. The larger the company selling something on the internet, the more they will be exposed by this policy of charging for “fast” lanes. It will cripple small businesses which the Republicans say they are totally in favor of protecting.
As usual, we are faced with monopolies determining what information you can view at high speeds and what you cannot. If your company is forced into the “slow” lanes, it will undoubtedly be subject to even slower transfer of information. Which means people will get tired of waiting for your site to load and go to the high-speed sites instead.
Then, after this has given the ISP providers more money, they will suddenly come up with a third lane and charge a premium for that as well. Instead of fast lanes and slow lanes, they will come up with medium lanes. Of course the price between slow lanes and medium lanes will double and small business will be further limited in their reach to the market.
The FCC needs to enforce rules that ensures net neutrality. By fighting against net neutrality, Republicans are helping to shut down small businesses. Then again, they don’t get as much in donation money from small business as they do from giant conglomerates. Just like the ISP companies, for Republicans it is all about how much money they get.