Duopoly Helping Net Neutrality: By Obviously Subverting It

grinch.png With enemies like these…
Until recently, net neutrality was a difficult issue to explain at a dinner party. It was even more of a struggle to get anybody worked up about it. Now, thanks to the major Internet service providers (ISPs) Comcast and Bell-Sympatico, the stakes are crystal clear and the acrid scent of a smoking gun hangs in the room.

How the Grinches Stole ‘Net Neutrality’ Internet service providers play favourites with video, large files and political sites. By Wayne MacPhail, the Tyee, Published: December 27, 2007

…it may seem we don’t even need friends, but we do.

A pretty good pro-net neutrality writeup follows. This is the gist:

Is it in the carriers’ best interest to allow upstart cheap phone companies like Skype or Vonage to suck up bandwidth with its inexpensive and excellent service? Nope, but in a free market and a neutral Internet, upstarts happen. The traditional players just don’t like it much and want the nonsense to stop.
You want upstarts? You want net neutrality.

That plus the duopoly wants to control content:

It is within the power of Canadian carriers to say, “We’d rather folks watch the news our partners provide, so we’ll just throttle back the speed of access for The Real News.” They could choke off or degrade your access to an alternative viewpoint.

Or, let’s move closer to home. Right now, rabble.ca (where this story first ran) is developing rabble tv, an Internet video version of rabble.ca. Canadian carriers could make rabble tv stutter and jump like a filmstrip caught in a projector.

Or, they could offer The Real News and rabble tv a chance to get out from underneath that throttling, if we were willing to pay more to get back on the fast lane of access — just like mobsters shaking down shopkeepers for protection money.

Of course, just being obvious that net neutrality is a good thing and that the duopoly is trying to suppress it isn’t enough. It was obvious that media diversity is a good thing and more media consolidation isn’t, and many citizens plus committees in both houses of Congress told the U.S. FCC so, but that didn’t stop the FCC from voting in more media consolidation on 18 December. What will stop the duopoly is users making it clear with their votes for politicians and their votes by pocketbook that net neutrality is something they care about and that they will have it.