Net neutrality is net new revenue

Rolling back net neutrality rules will spawn record shareholder returns and telco empires—and destroy the original concept of the internet

net neutrality computer internet broadband regulation goverment
Credit: IDG News Service

There is no goal in stifling net neutrality other than profits for telcos and broadband providers and their media empires. The current stink about having your favorite data communications pathway classified under Title II is this: No preferential treatment is given for data transport paths, and they’ll tend to seek the shortest, lowest-cost routing in various ways. 

Perhaps you forgot these following paradoxes: 

  • Xfinity owns NBC/Universal, but it believes that the FCC’s designation (by Wheeler and the FCC Commissioners in their prior regime) as a Title II Carrier is wrong, while at the same time it believes themselves to be in favor of net neutrality.
  • Verizon owns AOL (along with the Huffington Post and perhaps bits of what we once knew as Yahoo!) and believes the very same paradox. 
  • AT&T owns a lot of turf as well, including the Dish Network for both data and consumer video entertainment. 

Each provider, in this case, has something to gain by letting its own stuff ride on its own transport for cheap, to the detriment of other services on the internet. 

The FCC and net neutrality

Years ago, I had suspicions when Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, became chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

Also long ago, I was vice chairman of a burgeoning non-profit called the United States Connected Communities Association (USCCA), whose ability to thrive was cut short by pressure from the telcos. The USCCA (don’t confuse it with the U.S. Concealed Carry Association) was sideswiped into a ditch, figuratively speaking. We watched as armadas and fleets of telco lawyers tried to fit their bodies into tiny congressional offices on Capitol Hill. They were lobbying. 

+ Also on Network World: FCC chairman plans to 'reverse the mistake' of net neutrality +

Also years ago, companies like AT&T Long Lines, MCI and Sprint were called data carriers. To be separated into something other than telco carriers, magical words were pronounced to give that meaning. Various tariffs, as well as interstate regulatory kanoodling was done to separate pure data carriers from those with telephony, as telephony (land lines) was a highly regulated industry, even inside states. 

Over 20 years, virtually all phones (which was analog) became digital (in forms of VoIP and ancient protocols like ATM), and data carriage became voice carriage. But the cable companies weren’t covered as traditional voice-now data carriers were. There was some fuming, mostly about cable companies.

DSL services, tawdry as they technically were, were also (somewhat) exempt from blistering regulations the data carriers faced.

But noooooooo. The FCC moved them into the non-luxurious Title II classification under Wheeler, a man I came to deeply respect and who either turned against his former telco pack animal friends or set the whole Title II reclassification up to be a slam dunk for his successor—who, get this, is an ex-telco lawyer and exec.

What rolling back net neutrality rules will do

The FCC’s defense of re-doing the Title II net neutrality classification reads almost exactly like a lobbyist’s prose. Multiple Twitter postings a day smell of a sell-job, a payoff to the lobbyists who claim it’ll spawn innovations. 

No, it’s my belief that it will spawn record shareholder return and the emergence of empires, along with a complete tear in the concept of what the internet actually was designed for and how it should remain. 

The data communications infrastructure of the United States is an embarrassment to the citizens and innovators in this country that thought up the internet (DARPA), those that innovated its infrastructure (John Metcalfe and 3Com, inventors of Ethernet, among so many others), and those who saw a future where net neutrality would allow innovations and services. Tim Berners-Lee’s work on the World Wide Web, John Gosling’s work on Java, so many more innovated and capitalized vast pools of like-minded individuals made the web what it is today.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pan and minions launched a campaign in the last week of April to drive down the idea that Title II classification is wrong for organizations whose communications infrastructure were re-classified under Title II.

There are those that drank the FCC’s Kool-Aid. I’m from Indiana. I’m reminded of Jim Jones.

It seems that profits over infrastructure is once again trying to prevail. Please add your action to those that believe it’s all ONE BIG BANDWIDTH GRAB.

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