Net Neutrality Proponents Spurning FCC Proposal for Wrong Reasons
Other statements by such organizations are similarly suspect. The charge that such entities would raise their rates to offset bandwidth charges is probably correct, but how does that affect net neutrality? No one is forced to pay such charges unless they want to subscribe to Netflix. The proposed FCC rules would still prevent the blocking of any legal content, so the alleged threats to democracy simply don't hold water. This fuss has been around for quite a while now although the focus has changed. When I examined this issue back in 2006, the real concerns were that ISPs would force unreasonable charges in areas where there was no competition. But the FCC, and competition, have kept a lid on that. So now we get the question of whether being asked to pay more to get more bandwidth constitutes a threat to net neutrality. But this isn't an area in which there's a shortage of experience. I already have that option and so do many, if not most, Internet users in the United States. I subscribe to a fiber-based service provided by my regional phone company, and I can get more bandwidth if I'm willing to pay more money. Right now, I pay for 50M bps service. I could get more for a higher monthly charge and a lower charge if I want my access to the Internet to operate more slowly. To take the charges by Common Cause seriously, I would have to suggest that everyone should get the fastest possible access for the same price. But this makes no sense. If I don't need super-fast Internet access, why should I pay for it? Right now, I'm willing to pay what I do for Internet access to satisfy my own impatience.Is it fair that I pay more than I should so that Neflix users can get access to the bandwidth they need to watch videos any time they want to even if I'm not a Netflix subscriber? Quite frankly, it seems to me that Common Cause and the other advocates arguing against this proposal have it backward. Heavy bandwidth users should pay for the resources they consume.
But the reality is, despite the bandwidth I'm willing to pay for, I see the same Internet. The information available to me doesn't change. I just pay less for it. But because those Netflix users out there are soaking up a ton of bandwidth, chances are I'm helping subsidize it.