Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Federal Court Ruling: Comcast 1, Net Neutrality 0 - UPDATED

Net neutrality lost big-time in the federal appeals court for DC. This is the worst possible news for... well, for you, who obviously spend time viewing Web content.

Net neutrality is the short name for the tradition, reinforced until now by FCC policy and/or regulation, that internet providers and carriers must serve all material to end users at the same rate. Simply put, content from the Yellow Something Something must be served to you upon request at the same transmission rate as Google and the New York Times.

Now, under this ruling, Comcast, a major carrier of internet data, may set up a schedule of fees and say to Web content providers, "pay up, or we'll put your content to the end of the line." Comcast sued with the intention of doing just that if it won in court.

It did. It will.

Google and the NYT will have to pay up, but they'll manage, passing on their costs to us. Bloggers and similar ne'er-do-wells... well, they'll probably lose readership as people discover that they have time to go get coffee while the Yellow Something Something loads in their browser.

Congress can, of course, pass a net neutrality law, fixing in statute what was merely policy and FCC tradition before. But the telecom industry (e.g. Comcast) is a veritable gravy train of campaign contributions to members of Congress and presidential candidates. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Please view the hypothetical end-user internet service pricing ad at the end of the linked article. It's an eye-popping vision of what we are likely to see if this issue is unaddressed.

(Minor changes made moments after posting.)

UPDATE: there may be another way to protect net neutrality other than a new statute... but regrettably it will require (ulp) courage on the part of Obama's FCC chair. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: more on this approach, from Free Press's Save the Internet program.

No comments:

Post a Comment


• Click here to view existing comments.
• Or enter your new rhyme or reason
in the new comment box here.
• Or click the first Reply link below an existing
comment or reply and type in the
new reply box provided.
• Scrolling manually up and down the page
is also OK.

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes