President Barack Obama recently made a bold statement on the issue of net neutrality. He urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to keep the Internet “free and open.” The President believes that “free and open” should apply to both wired and wireless Internet connectivity, and millions of American consumers agree with him.
Unfortunately, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler doesn’t appear to be playing ball, despite being an Obama appointee. Prior to chairing the FCC, Wheeler served as a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries. The Washington Post reported Wheeler as saying, “What I’ve got to figure out is how to split the baby.” It doesn’t work that way. You can’t have a version of net neutrality that serves both consumer and telecom interests. Similar to how a woman can’t be “almost” pregnant, you can’t almost have net neutrality. The FCC is either going to keep the Internet free and open or allow Internet providers to prioritize content.
For those of you unfamiliar with the issue, telecom companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, etc. want the right to throttle Internet connections and grant priority access to certain content providers. This would destroy the Internet as we know it, heavily favoring companies that can afford to pay off Internet providers for priority access and making things prohibitive for startups with limited budgets. For the most entertaining explanation of the issue ever, check out the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver clip below.
On related a note, senator Ted Cruz idiotically tweeted that net neutrality is Obamacare for the Internet. That’s just moronic. Meanwhile, AT&T has announced that it will halt the deployment of fiber-based high-speed Internet until the net neutrality issues is resolved, which is the telecom equivalent of a bratty kid taking his ball and going home because he’s losing the game.
Personally, I have zero faith in net neutrality being upheld — zero. Even though net neutrality is being backed by heavy hitters like Google and Yahoo!, the telecom companies have better lobbyists. AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc. have been crooking the government better and longer than their relatively young opponents in technology. I’m pretty disillusioned with the government; I don’t expect it to get important issues right and fully expect most politicians to serve businesses over consumers. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but I can’t imagine a positive outcome for this issue.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the recent net neutrality developments. Do you think the Internet will remain free and open? Or will it become a walled garden controlled by your ISP? Share your thoughts in the comments section (please!)
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