A wonderful discussion about Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality is a very confusing subject, mostly because it means different things to different people.  

At the heart of the whole debate is whether a company who has the responsibility of providing the internet infrastructure (or the “Internet Backbone”) has the right to sell higher speed access to the backbone to those client companies that might want their website to display faster.

There are two ways to look at the this situation, in more or less black and white terms.   Unfortunately, this is anything but a black and white situation, so I admit that this breakdown of terms will be rather simplistic.  Here is the nutshell version of each:

  • If you are for the continued lack of regulation of the Internet, and opt for more of a laissez-faire angle, then you are considered to be AGAINST Net Neutrality.   You join the ranks of large companies like AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.   Just recently, Google has announced a desire to work with Verizon, so they are now changing sides.
  • If you vote to regulate the Internet, then you are FOR Net Neutrality.  You join the ranks of groups like Free Press, Public Knowledge, Amazon, and Yahoo.  Google used to be on this side, but because they are now in talks with Verizon Wireless about a bundling deal, they have concievably changed sides…

People who are AGAINST Net Neutrality want to be able to sell the Googles of the world a far superior connection to the Internet compared to the small business websites.   The major argument here is that allowing these backbone companies to charge more for faster connections gives these companies the necessary incentives to continue to invest in their own networks and infrastructure.

People who are FOR Net Neutrality want the Amazons of the world to have the same visibility on the Internet that the average Small Business website has.   They say that regulations to prevent (or at least restrict) any possible discrimination are required to keep the big businesses of the world from conspiring to limit options of regular users.

For a really good list of articles on the issue, please visit the New York Times Room for Debate topic of “Who Gets Priority on the Web?”  There are articles from 9 different Contributors available for your perusal, so you’ll get both sides of the story.  Highly recommended read.