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September 07, 2007



Even other price-regulated utilities still allow providers to meter usage. Think electric, water, etc.

I don't understand why the internet, which is really becoming another public utility, should be any different.

Is it a metering problem? If not, why do telecom carriers not even get to meter usage like other utilities. We could have price caps, etc. so it would still be regulated. But why should the net be completely neutral when other utilities are not?

Am I missing something. I'm not saying that Net Neutrality is intrinsically a flawed idea. Just that I don't understand why it's different than other utilities. Somebody explain the differences cogently and I'll see if I buy it.

Don Dodge

Internet bandwidth usage is metered on the provider side. Web sites like MySpace and services like YouTube pay enormous bandwidth fees to their ISPs, or directly to the telecom carriers. Businesses pay for tiers of service and bandwidth for their Internet usage. These fees are in turn paid to all the carriers through "peering" arrangements.

Consumers pay for Internet usgae too. In the old days we paid by the minute. AOL introduced tiers of service, which later evolved into a flat fee per month. Think about all the home owners in America paying $50 a month, or $600 per year. It adds up to billions...on top of what the web sites and businesses pay.

Michael Clarke

Good overview...One additional point is that (certainly in the UK) broadband users pay for a certain amount of bandwidth per month. Or for unlimited bandwidth. What the two-tier proposals have made very clear is that whilst carriers are happy for people to pay for bandwidth, they are far from happy about people actually using it.

Or in other words, everything was fine up to the point that people suddenly had the content available (i.e. the BBC iPlayer) to watch TV, download from iTunes - to do all the wonderful things that service providers have always marketed but never had to worry about delivering...

Andy Freeman

> But why should the net be completely neutral when other utilities are not?

Really? Do you pay more when you call IBM to make a deal that is worth $1M than you pay to call the car repair shop to find out when your car will be ready? I don't, because telcom is relatively neutral.

Why should my bit service be different than my voice service?

Why should the cost of my bandwidth depend on what I'm doing with it?


I suppose my biggest concern about non-neutral networks is that they potentially give network providers the chance to "tax" my company. After all, I sell online, so I rely on the fact that people half the country away have the same access to my site that people next door have. But suppose that stopped being true? What if I had to buy into some advertising program, or become an exclusive provider to some walled system? Back in the days of AOL, Prodigy, and CompuServe, either you were on those systems or not. Could I be effectively locked-out? And what will it cost me to get in?

Sure, this is catastrophizing, but the problem is that I have no idea what network providers' intentions are vis-a-vis small business, or how high they intend to make their "tax."

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