Congress is weighing legislation that would prevent phone, cable and broadband companies from putting speed bumps on the information superhighway, ensuring “net neutrality” and equal access for all users regardless of their size, political leanings or point of view. But is it government’s role to regulate how network access is apportioned by private companies, even giant conglomerates like the soon-to-be merged Comcast/NBC Universal?
We’ve written in this space before about net neutrality and the potential of large service providers to jigger who gets the fastest access and who may get shut out altogether. This is a vitally important subject for the future of the Internet, so it bears repeating: We at Cory Communications support a free and democratic Internet, in which all users – whether private individuals, public employees, students, corporations or media giants – are treated equally and afforded the same access to information, with the same bandwidth, at the same speeds. We feel anything else would constitute censorship or, worse, lead to a usage model in which those who can pay higher freight or are a subsidiary of the service provider will be able to have their voices heard more effectively.
Should first responders, law enforcement agencies, hospitals and universities benefit from priority access, while the public at large deals with slower downloads and / or filtered information? The qualified answer is “no.” However, as technology evolves, as bandwidth continues to expand, and as speeds get faster, there should be room to accommodate all needs, whether it’s your teenager playing Worlds of Warcraft with other gamers around the globe, or a U.S. surgeon guiding his counterpart in Germany through a complex procedure.
What’s more, anything that asks network managers to segment data based on who is paying what for access will just further strain the already immense task of handling constantly growing network traffic. And if business end users are frustrated by slow download speeds now, their aggravation will only get worse – and their productivity will dwindle further – as “trivial” information or content is shunted into the slow lane in favor of “more important” fast-lane behemoths.
But what role should the Federal Government and FCC play in all this? Sen. Al Franken, in a recent commentary for CNN, stated that corporations controlling content online amounts to a infringement of free speech. In actuality, only government can infringe the First Amendment. In fact, by sitting back and not imposing legislation on content providers/carriers, government would be doing what government should do – letting competitive pressures and free enterprise play out, for the benefit of all concerned.
Filtering information or slowing it down is, simply, bad business. Consumers or businesses stymied by slow downloads or the perception that they’re not able to access all that the Internet has to offer will quickly switch service providers. The Comcasts and AT&Ts know this, and know it’s not in their best interest to censor material or otherwise aggravate their customers.
And as Adam Thierer and Mike Wendy note on CNN in their response to Franken, censorship is hard. ISPs just don’t have the technology or manpower to filter the flow of information based on viewpoint. And if they did, why would companies court the public relations nightmare of doing so?
Net neutrality is a huge issue, one that will likely play out in the coming months in the full glare of the media spotlight. While Cory Communications watches with great interest, we will continue to provide our customers with the very best products and services to ensure they remain in the express lane, regardless of any roadblocks service providers may or may not put up.
Please call us at 1-877-489-8186 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with any views or concerns.