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Blog Views: Net Neutrality Bills Will Harm U.S.

On the ZDNet blog “Managing L’unix,” I was intrigued by an analogy that IT consultant and author Paul Murphy brings to life about how various net neutrality proposals being considered by the U.S. Congress will affect the network industry. (The bills would establish government oversight on all public networks in the U.S., and are aimed at ensuring carriers “neither charge extra for, nor artificially retard or accelerate, packets based on origin or content.”

Actually, the analogy comes from “Human Events,” an article by Ross Kaminsky. In it, Kaminsky says:

“If ISPs can’t have policies which address the fact that bandwidth is limited and that bandwidth hogs need to be restrained so the rest of their customers can maintain adequate service, that puts them in an extremely difficult situation.”

Further, he makes the analogy of a private road builder being unfairly limited in the amount of tolls that can be charged according to vehicle type. “Imagine you are a private builder of toll roads who invests a billion dollars in a highway,” says Kaminsky. ” Then the government tells you that it’s unfair for you to charge 18-wheel tractor-trailers a higher toll than you charge passenger cars despite the fact that the big trucks are responsible for the large majority of your maintenance and repair budget. What would your choices then be? Probably some combination of stopping construction of further roads, raising the prices for everyone (because the government says everyone has to pay the same price), or trying to find legally uncertain ways to game the system. The same choices will apply to ISPs under Net Neutrality.”

Wise words.

But Murphy, too, makes a good point about the future of the U.S. network infrastructure, summing up his thoughts on net neutrality. He says that the American network infrastructure is “currently under built in reaction to the excesses of the 90s,” adding that the proposed regulations will kill investment for new investment. As a result, we “will eventually raise short term carrier profitability, while essentially capping efforts to deliver high bandwidth content via the internet at or below present levels.”

Murphy, which is really a pseudonym, says that “in the long run, therefore, the bottom line on net neutrality is that it’s far from neutral in being good news for traditional media, but bad news for internet users and worse news for long term American competitiveness in the world. ”

Last thing we need now is handicapping industry. Do you agree? What’s your opinion?


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