Monday, May 19, 2014

(TV) Net Neutrality: The end of the internet as we know it?

There has been much said about net neutrality and the consequences of its disappearance or death but one thing is for sure, it could spell the end of the internet as you know it.

Net Neutrality, a rather simple principle that would see all internet traffic, regardless of size or type, to be treated equally without discrimination is now in doubt as the FCC recently announced rules that would in practice allow internet service providers (ISP's) to charge internet companies for traffic they use

However, for all the furore over the end of net neutrality and the consequences of it's doom, the real story is the burgeoning war between ISP's and giant internet companies  that has been brewing for nearly a decade and now with the impending doom of net neutrality has already been won by ISP giants such as Comcast and Verizon.

ISP's have always resented the idea of net neutrality as they thought it made a etho-political issue out of what, according to them, was a simple traffic management issue. Sick of sites like Netflix and YouTube profiting while making up most of their traffic and being unable to charge for their extra use of their networks, ISP's have been looking for a remedy against net neutrality for years and now may just have found it.  

Caught between playing ball with cable giants such as Comcast and Verizon and fighting back against the new rules, internet giants such as Netflix and Google are looking to make use of the public outrage generated by doom of Net Neutrality and it's consequences for the internet by launching an almighty PR campaign rivaling the outcry that beat back SOPA. While Google and Netflix have a stake preserving net neutrality,  so does everybody else as the one of the main concerns of its loss means a handful of ISP's, thanks to the notable lack of competition in the broadband market, will have a terrifying amount of control over the cost and speed of access to the internet.

The loss of net neutrality would screw a lot of people from large internet companies to consumers but among all these parties new internet companies looking to become the next Google, YouTube, or Netflix stand to get screwed the hardest. 

Large internet companies such as Google and Netflix may fight against the nasty bump in their monthly broadband bills they will experience with the death of net neutrality but inadvertently may benefit from it's death as it may kill off potential competitors in their cribs. new internet start-ups, lacking both Google's and Netflix's brand recognition and cash,  will have to bend the knee and fork up large amounts of cash to large ISP's just to do business and compete just because large ISP's are looking to get paid twice.

Needless to say, this scenario can and will stifle innovation all because large ISP's  are engaging in what has to be one of the most blatant cases of industrial level rent seeking this side of twenty first century.  However, what's scary about this all is not that net neutrality maybe dead and its soon to be felt consequences but the entrenched power a ridiculously few cable companies have amassed and will continue to amass thanks to a number of strategic mergers and acquisitions that will only become more concentrated should Comcast complete their merger with Time Warner.

In sum, the death of net neutrality is a major loss for established internet companies and consumers and may bring the end of the internet as we know it but the real story at the heart of this travesty is the concentrated power a handful of ISP's have which can and almost certainly will be bad news for all involved. 

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