Net Neutrality and Strange Bedfellows?

hmlbr52Net Neutrality and Strange Bedfellows?

It is a trite statement: “Politics makes strange bedfellows.” However overused the expression, it is quite accurate.

In the struggle over net neutrality a number of corporations have joined the side of the angels. Why?

When the subject is net neutrality we are talking about access. Without net neutrality major players, that is, those with millions or more commonly billions of dollars, will own the prime real estate, the highest internet speeds while the rest of us will live in a ghetto of diminished speed and low expectations.

Obviously, bloggers and activists need net neutrality so their sites can be effective, but so do small businesses and corporations. Some corporations have large internet operations that offer only a limited opportunity for profit. Buying internet speed is not economical for some users. Further, if you have a startup, like Facebook was at one time, you will not be able to afford the extra cost of the speed that might make your business a success.

Think of the attacks on net neutrality not as a corporate assault on equal privileges of use – think of it as specific corporations making that assault. It is not hard to figure out which ones. The other corporations will be in the same boat with the rest of us, unable to get high internet speeds without paying a premium.

Thus, we have a probably temporary but workable alliance between social activists, some businesses and corporations and independent bloggers (like me).

We’re like ill-funded insurgents often enemies with each other in a common cause against a formally trained, experienced and huge army. Let’s see what our ragged band of fighters can do?

James Pilant

Net neutrality has done the impossible: Align leftist and corporate interests

Welcome to Occupy Inc.


US Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler’s proposals last week against “net neutrality”—the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally regardless of source—created a wave of internet traffic in its own right. Wheeler’s new proposal, that internet service providers can prioritize some sites’ traffic over others by allowing bandwidth-guzzling sites such as Netflix to pay a premium for optimal speed (but not restrict access to lawful sites altogether), is a virtual about-face from the FCC’s 2009′s edict that ISPs “must treat lawful content, applications, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.” The FCC’s inconsistency has not gone unnoticed—with companies ranging from web behemoths like Facebook and eBay joining forces with social responsibility titans like CREDO Mobile and a myriad of startups to oppose the new FCC ruling. Critics say that such the FCC’s two-tiered “fast lane” framework—where the haves stream video in HD and the have-nots are relegated to slower speeds—would make it virtually impossible for Netflix-esque startups to take shape – “…if deep-pocketed players can pay for a faster, more reliable service, then small startups face a crushing disadvantage,” says one venture capitalist.


And with one government statement, net neutrality has become the new income inequality, the cause celebre of the progressive activist — and for the first time, the offices of Big Technology are allied with the tents of Occupy.


Last week saw the birth of the #OccupyTheFCC movement and a protest movement began camping on on the steps of the FCC’s Washington, DC headquarters. True to Occupy form, daily (and nightly) “actions” have punctuated the FCC’s daily operations since last Wednesday. From banners and greeting workers daily with a “human firewall” outside of the front entrance, to citywide awareness-driving PSA campaigns, to highway overpass signs, the movement is picking up steam heading into day eight. They’re “not going away anytime soon.” Its organizers, Fight for the Future, are no strangers to online protest, having risen to prominence in 2011 through the viral anti-SOPA “blackout” widget, was adopted by everyone from Google to Wikipedia in a coordinated effort against the unpopular “anti-piracy” legislation. …

From Around the Web.

From the web site, Vergaranomics.

Fine Bright Like a Diamond: The Financial Story of Shiny Rocks, the Future of the 21st Century Economy, and that One Disney Movie I Haven’t Seen in Ages

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission voted to open debate to a restructuring of net neutrality laws. Nothing is set in stone yet, but there is a lot at stake that could have ripples from the direction of our economy to the existence of this blog and much more.

A useful place to start before diving into the world of economic shift and corporate interests it to start with the basics: what is net neutrality? Coined by Columbia media law professor Tim Wu in his 2003 publication, the term “net neutrality” is the idea that ISPs (Internet service providers, such as Verizon or Comcast) should treat all data available on the Internet in a fair and equal manner, with no discrimination towards access, content, website, application, or the users accessing said data. Such an environment is amenable to both consumers and producers, because it’s relatively cheap to buy a site and a domain and begin producing your own product in a matter of hours. This proliferation of producers and products makes the market awash in competition and thereby keeps prices down for us consumers.

So, what’s the catch? The FCC is entertaining a motion to discuss the possibility of “paid prioritization,” meaning that ISPs could charge content providers higher premiums to maintain quality service. Though the FCC has rigorously denied any claims of such “lanes,” this would create a two-tier system: a “regular” lane being slower and lower quality than prioritized ones. Consider it being analogous to the tollways that run concurrently with highways, with the exception that the owners of the tollways are launching missiles at a few highway underpasses every few weeks. These prices get passed down to us, the consumers, as ISPs will no longer have incentive to expand and update their pipes when they can simply charge more for usage of existing infrastructure. Suddenly, fast Internet becomes a commodity.

In economics, we call this artificial scarcity. Consider the Disney Vault. Every few years, a commercial fervor grows as yet another Disney movie that I haven’t seen in eons is re-released on VHS, then to DVD, then to Blu-Ray, available only for a few weeks before “returning to the vault,” only to be released again 10 years later, remastered and in Gold Edition. Disney is artificially creating demand by limiting the supply of said re-released film for an allotted amount of time. It’s not that these movies are especially rare: a trip to a Goodwill will nab you some classics and a VCR for thirty bucks. Rather, Disney is creating scarcity by returning that re-released film back to the Vault. …

(Please visit the above site and read the whole entry – it’s a good post and deserves your full attention. jp)

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