Net Neutrality…this is for real kids…

Jeff Pulver has been running a little contest to save the net and today he announced the winner of round one.  Now frankly, I looked at all 4 of his winning picks, and while the video based on Halo was entertaining, it was far from actually doing anything to save the internet from corporate rape.  I actually thought this one was best, but that's just my opinion.  

For those of you who don't know about Net Neutrality and the issue that's raising this shitstorm, basically the guys who own the pipe (telco's mainly) are saying that there should be a fee for guys like google to be allowed to be seen on their pipeline.  They spin it in such a way that it's all about Quality of Service, and higher tier (meaning higher paying) customers would recieve better quality of service than lower tier ones.  A grand idea in a Utopian environment, but unfortunately we don't have a Utopian environment.  This can only lead to elitism of the internet, where the highest paying people get first and best viewing.  Do we really want the internet to turn into television or hollywood, where anything of quality but outside the norm gets buried in a sea of inoffensive, safe tripe?  I dunno about anyone else, but I sure don't.  Not that I have anything against safe tripe, but I like the choice.

It concerns me that this idea of two tiered internet doesn't seem to be catching the groundswell of interest like we've seen so many times on the net.  I would have thought that this would be exactly the type of issue that would force reaction of net users on a huge scale.  Even virally, this should have grown a lot more than what I've seen.  Inside the IP communications world I see alot of talk about it; that's not the issue.  What bugs me is that in the general web/tech world I'm not seeing much.  I've seen one post about this on Futurelooks forums, and I wrote that.  And there wasn't much for comments on it.  Are people just plain not worried about this? 

Because it will happen if things don't happen to stop it.  The major telco's and cable co's in the US are pushing hard to enact legislation to allow this two tiered system.  We've seen time and again that they have the lobby power to influence decisions to lower competition to themselves, and this is a biggie for them.  As telephony margins dissipate, churn rises and alternative (and often free) ways to communicate or share information arise, the people who own the pipes get more and more diligent in their efforts to stop the bleeding.

This doesn't even take into consideration the other guys who want to see this: the movie and music industries.  The motion picture industry in particular benefits by having "arrangements" with the infrastructure owners where high content high bandwidth information incur higher costs to the users and providers of that content…think about it.  Want to stem piracy and the bit torrent world but can't?  Don't stop em, let em do it and take a cut.  Everybody wins!  Except the consumer…  Not that I support piracy…

This is a very complex issue…much as we fear the demise of the free internet, there has to be a way for the infrastructure to be paid for.  I personally believe there are alternatives to destroying the web as it is today, but I don't know what they are…if I did I'd probably be rich.  But rather than allow the infra providers to hit the panic button and negatively effect everyone, why don't we stand up and say "hey…you're smart guys…find an alternative and stop screwing the people who buy your lunch."  Oh, and by the way…these big multi national telcos have a tankload of revenue to burn through before they're threatened with bankruptcy.

Visit this site for more information from smarter guys than me. 

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