Poll: Americans don’t want net neutrality (or maybe they don’t know what it is)

I really find the whole Net Neutrality debate somewhat disheartening. There are two sides to this debate, one rooted in the realities of the way the internet works, and one rooted in trying to “optimize” the internet to the advantage of a very specific set of applications (video and voice traffic) offered by a very few providers (primarily large network operators). Unfortunately, one of these sides seems to have gained the rhetorical upper hand and seems to be controlling the current tone and tenor of the discussions.

A nationwide survey of 800 registered voters is being touted by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation because it purports to show that Americans are not interested in net neutrality legislation.

– via Ars Technica

 Of course internet users aren’t interested in net neutrality legislation – most internet users don’t have a clue of how the internet works, ought to work and was designed to work.

I personally don’t have an issue with whether or not you want to apply QOS or traffic shaping to your packets, but please, leave mine along. The internet is not a cohesive thing, it is a series of interconnection agreements between various independently operated networks and a series of technical protocols outlining how those interconnects should happen for maximum interoperability. Just because you might own the wires, doesn’t mean that you own the bits.

My biggest problem with the entire situation is that it is largely an artifact of bad regulation. In my opinion, the FCC and CRTC aren’t doing anyone any favors with their 3rd party access and hi-speed internet regulatory policies. Competition between a small number of players with very large market share isn’t competition. Competition between DSL and Cable isn’t competition. True competition can only happen in the absence of over-reaching regulation. Which can’t happen in an environment where the very large players have had the benefit of regulatory protection for far too many years.

The regulators need to get off the pot with this one. We must demand that either strong legislation that protects the internet is enacted, or we must demand that protectionist regulation is dismantled to ensure that everyone has a chance to benefit from the unique opportunities that the internet has to offer.

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