by Anura Guruge
9 months, 3 weeks and 4 days ago I did a post urging Obama to make Net Neutrality a part of his legacy — alongside Obamacare. On November 10 Obama appears to have heeded my call. Not that surprising. After the drubbing at the 2014 Mid-Term elections he now knows, indubitably, that his legacy will be start-crossed and controversial. Net Neutrality, though it is anti-American in a way, is an easy ‘home run’ for him to try an attempt.
I am glad.
I believe in Net Neutrality though 99% of the time in all other scenarios I ardently believe that people should be able to pay for differentiated service. Yes, I used to fly first class. I pay more to get front row seats. Yes, I pay more to get the maximum Internet bandwidth I can — actually I pay for two separate lines, each at max bandwidth, to maximize the bandwidth I can get. So I am willing to pay for better/faster service in most cases BUT I don’t think that differentiated service is RIGHT for the Internet. That said I would NOT mind a scenario where EVERYBODY is made to pay some kind of usage-based fee! I am a strong believer that there is way, way, way too much profligate wastage of Internet bandwidth and storage because there is no usage-based charge per se. It is the only flat-rate utility in the country. Some mind not understand what an usage-based fee means when it comes to the Internet. Lets take 2 customers, A & B. They both pay $25/month to get a 15 Mbps bandwidth connection to their house. Customer A uses 90% of that 15 Mbps bandwidth for 16 hours a day, while customer B only uses 25% of the bandwidth, intermittently, over a 8 hour period. But both pay the same $25/month flat fee. Even a miniscule $0.00001 charge per megabyte of data sent or received will significantly change Internet usage patterns. Yes, those with not-unlimited Mobile plans know what this is all about.
Net Neutrality, however, is not the only way Internet service providers penalize one segment of the market vs. another. A BIG way they do so is by limiting the max. bandwidth available in certain markets. I, for example, living in rural New Hampshire, can, as yet, ONLY get 15 Mbps of dedicated Internet bandwidth per connection. Cable modem bandwidth, can be higher, but is shared between multiple consumers and as such will fluctuate with the level of usage by ALL the consumers sharing that bandwidth. There are other markets in the U.S., even Southern New Hampshire, where you can get much higher bandwidths per connection. This also needs to be rectified.