Months later it started, today became a major milestone day as the FCC has voted 3-2 to approve proposed rules for net neutrality crafted by Julius Genachowski. As anticipated, there are loads of opinions decrying the rules & or cautioning losses in long term. Few like this & this are a little different, somewhat in favor and then, some completely neutral.
While the opinions (& eventually the rules) have discussed service providers, cable providers, phone companies & the impact on regular internet usage layering – it was always going to be an extremely important & even more difficult decision to make for FCC.
We got to start each discussion on net neutrality keeping in mind that discrimination was going to happen no matter what. There are better sets of regulations for wired services when compared to wireless. That leaves wireless internet services highly susceptible to discrimination (at the same time, highly competitive especially during the ongoing Smartphone era).
The battles on net neutrality:
ISPs Vs Cable providers’ wars became puzzlers with no clear winner like Comcast Vs Level-3 where there had to be fairness & ability to compete. Cable providers, clearly, were affected by bandwidth hogging websites (especially the video streaming ones like YouTube, Vimeo) – this was certified by the court ruling on Comcast Vs FCC case. In addition, it kept (rightfully so) FCC from controlling ‘too much’
Poor Obama becomes a victim again:
Terming net neutrality rule another loss-loss situation for Obama, the popular opinion has lambasted Obama govt for satisfying no one – just like at the time of Healthcare bill. Perhaps, Obama has slightly deviated from his promise but come on, give the guy a break. American market had to remain competitive.
Effect on startups:
This is one area that might really take a hit. No good news for startups. It might get very expensive to start a streaming-based internet enterprise. Even though there are arguments like – “Currently it’s very cheap to have videos delivered over the internet for startups as compared to what YouTube used to pay 4-5 years back” à still, it is bad. The environment must remain cost-effective for startups – today, tomorrow, forever. Unfortunately, USA is already losing talent to China & India; this might be another setback for Silicon Valley in the long-term.
So, what’s going to happen?
We must remember – if it’s too expensive, it is anti-consumer & anti-consumer is anti-business. I really don’t see companies (Comcast, Verizon or AT&T) raising the internet charges too much. As for Google – at the risk of being Devil’s advocate – let me enlighten you on the fact that Google has actually made a lot of services free, I still trust Google’s ‘profit-making’ skills & their urge to remain user-friendly in all possible aspects.
Need for business to remain competitive & accessible drives benefits for end users. That what I see happening. Economic competition may play out well for all of us.
Net neutrality battle is far from over but good that now, we have ground rules to start with 🙂
Recommend visiting – http://www.netcompetition.org/ (for competition in internet services) & http://www.savetheinternet.com/ (against discrimination in providing internet services) represent two sides of net neutrality argument. Of course the rules need Senate approval still but seems like it’s one all (probably, best for consumers).
–Update @ 5:50 PM EST 12/23/2010–
FCC has released net neutrality rules on their website. You may download Final draft here for reading. I know, it is lame to release .doc & .PDF files, I still can’t stop laughing! 😀
–Update @ 8:45 PM EST 12/24/2010–
“A picture is worth a thousand words” – Net neutrality explained – http://theopeninter.net/