Friday, April 07, 2006

Erick Schonfeld on Net Neutrality

Erick Schonfeld takes a look at the recent win for Telcos on the net neurality front. I think his answer is off target. Charging customers more for the ability to get high speed video isn't the point. The point is that we have invested a ton of money in infrastructure and we are still number 15 in the world in terms of quality and cost of data services. The video transmission issue is a red herring. The telcos want to get into the video business so they are trying to block out other competitors and other TV over IP efforts.

From the post:

"Those fears are legitimate, but I am not sure vague legislation is the answer. It could create more problems than it solves, and perhaps even fossilize the Internet where it is today. Not to mention that the telcos outspend tech companies in lobbying by a three-to-one margin. Fighting them in Washington is just not a good idea.

The only reason Net neutrality is even an issue is because the broadband pipes are concentrated in so few hands (especially with all the recent phone company mergers). Unfortunately, there are no easy answers here. The companies that own the networks that make up the Internet should be allowed to improve those networks, and if they can deliver broadband video faster to your PC, they should be able to charge for that too.

I think the ultimate answer to this is for the telcos and cable companies to be as transparent as possible. That would both enhance their crummy reputations with consumers and ward off the prospect of future regulation. And one way to be more transparent is not to add hidden costs to the Internet by charging Websites for carriage that eventually will be passed onto consumers anyway.

Just charge the consumers. I know that might not be a popular sentiment. But at least that way we'll know what we are paying for. Heck, if I could get cable-quality video through my broadband connection at home, I'd gladly pay more for that—but only if I could get the same experience from any video, music or multimedia site."



Post a Comment

<< Home