I had this post on a Times column more than a year ago, and it's useful to reprint.
“Net neutrality” is a term invented by various geek lobbies who have a vested interest in having their means of production be entirely free, and who need to reduce or eliminate their own business costs.
“Net neutrality” masks the interest groups at work like Google or various app engineers or WoW patch and Lost episode torrenters behind a fake notion of “public interest” — even going so far as to preposterously claim that their *need* to consume in the public commons should be called “the right to freedom of expression”.
The term should be relabelled “net congestion,” since that’s what the issue is about: a scarcity, which is broadband, and a demand exceeding supply.
To demand that companies provide this scarce commodity for free or low cost or with government subsidies or control is basically technocommunism. To claim that the telecoms are “already subsidized” is to dodge the issue of what it means to have broadband FURTHER subsidized by the state, indulging the need of heavy users to consume.
Good for John Petter, he has summed up the issue cogently and accurately. The effort to cast it differently as a “right” is misleading and false.
When you pay for an amount, who says you pay for a guaranteed speed? You don’t. And you are not entitled to it just because you consume more (where does the rest of real life work like that?!).
Companies may evolve different models of meters or one-time usage packs you buy or who knows what. What they will not be doing is continuing to enable you to endulge your torrenting at the expense of my email. And I will be charged more if I want to run a virtual world. And that’s ok.
There is only one way to have this debate fairly and democratically in this country, without the hijacking of the Obama administration czars on this by Silicon Valley interests, which is already happening.
And that is to stop calling it “net neutrality,” as if telecoms are supposed to endlessly supply you with broadband you need to consume. It’s about *consumption* and not content.
I do not work for a telecom; I do not represent industry interests; I don’t even have cable TV. What I simply won’t do is stand idly by while this debate skewed to the extremist left every time it is had, and I will speak up.
It's not a "straw man" to note that bandwidth is a scarce commodity. That's the case.
Your claim that we "already pay for it" (and a related argument geeks often make, that the government has "already subsidized telecoms") simply doesn't cut it.
That's because the pricing for, say, a DSL line of only $37 a month from Verizon, or less on a Roadrunner or some other service, was put in place years ago before people routinely put in giant WoW patches, wads of digital photos on email attachments; torrents of illegally pirated music and movies; loads of Youtubes viewed; virtual worlds, etc. etc.
The sheer enormous load of content forced through the pipes was not anticipated in the pricing model or in the government subsidies. Google wouldn't expect us all to keep paying *them* 2005 or even 2000 prices, why do we have to expect then that telecomes have to do MORE with the same pay?
We will all have to pay more. That's understood. We get way more than what we get from cable TV out of the Internet now in scores of entertainment and all kinds of other kinds of media.
Google merely wants to cut or eliminate costs to be able to sell ads on top of this content. Understood. So sell ads and even collect subscriptions. But don't make us pay in the form of taxes by forcing the government to pay, and don't make telecomes pay.
Stingy? Why? All these companies are loading and pushing and moving gadzillion more bytes than they ever knew they'd ever have to move. My Verizon bill has not changed in more than five years. Meanwhile, Google emerged and now makes billions. Do the math.