• United States

Mailbag: Readers respond to the ‘Net neutrality debate, Part 1

Mar 06, 20062 mins

* What readers think about the Internet neutrality issue

Our series on Internet neutrality sparked lots of interest judging by the many e-mails we’ve received. Thanks to all who wrote on both sides of the issue. This week we’ll wrap up the topic (for now) with a few reader response highlights. Please accept our apologies that we couldn’t include all of your comments.

On one side of the issue, Martin suggests that maybe it isn’t “‘Net neutrality” at all, rather the issue is a matter of “‘Net accessibility.” He writes, “I can’t see that there is a problem that ISPs and others should be able to provide different levels of services, but now perhaps ‘best effort’ becomes even more best effort. He believes that with “net accessibility” providers “should not be allowed to lock/filter anyone out, i.e. we shall basically maintain transparency to access to resources and services on the Internet.”

On the other side of the issue, Jon writes to challenge our position on who should pay. He asks, “If . . . the end user is paying for the broadband connection as they have in the past . . . then who should pay for the infrastructure needed in the provider’s core network to provide the needed bandwidth and QoS capabilities to transport all this new content?” He notes: “In the past the [long-distance] carriers paid access fees . . . so the LD traffic traversing switched networks was paid for. Now you have content providers potentially crippling local data networks . . . hiding behind the ‘Net neutrality banner’.”

Jon concludes that: “Someone has to pay for the infrastructure to be built and maintained. The RBOCs will eventually do this . . . but what about the smaller LECs that absolutely cannot afford to do this?” Jon believes that this arrangement creates another digital divide and that universal service funds (USF) should never be used to make up the difference. Jon recommends, “A flat monthly fee on the bandwidth connections into each providers network, based on bandwidth, and QoS provided so that all parties using the network, pay for the network.”

Our (short) comments: Martin has a bold future in market messaging. And Jon reminds us that the USF is going broke (even without funding Internet infrastructure build-outs) and someday we need to write about that, too.