The latest threat to freedom and the free market is the equally benign-sounding "Net Neutrality" being pushed by the Democrats over at the FCC. Anyone who uses, reads, writes, or depends on the internet should be frightened by this concept. Here's how it works: right now, internet service providers are free to charge behemoth websites (think Google, Amazon, Twitter) to access their bandwith, while they are free to charge less to other, smaller users, or even to make access free. This freedom -- to price their services as they see fit -- has generated tremendous growth in the internet and the increasingly related area of mobile communications. As Bret Swanson put it in the October 4 Wall Street Journal:
Since 2004, bandwidth per capita in the U.S. grew to three megabits per second from just 262 kilobits per second, and monthly Internet traffic increased to two billion gigabytes from 170 million gigabytes—both tenfold leaps. * * * Wireless carriers invested $100 billion in just the past three years, and the U.S. vaulted past Europe in fast 3G mobile networks. Americans enjoy mobile voice prices 60% cheaper than foreign peers. And the once closed mobile ecosystem is more open, modular and dynamic than ever. All this occurred without net neutrality regulation.
Moreover, the hypocrisy of so-called “net neutrality” is truly astounding. Google, for example, operates Google Voice, but does not extend the service everywhere because in certain, rural areas and conferencing services Google has higher interconnection fees. So, Google wants to cherry-pick the most profitable networks but refuses neutral service when it’s costlier. This, of course, is perfectly rational, but sheer hypocrisy when Google complains about ISPs that want to charge it more because of the tremendous costs Google and other mega-sites like Facebook, Amazon, and Twitter impose on an ISP to be able to offer these services at a high enough speed to satisfy consumers.
“Net neutrality” would require ISPs to treat every site exactly the same, turning the internet from a growing, vital resource into nothing more than a “dumb” pipeline, discouraging growth and stifling innovation. When will these morons learn that if firms cannot price their offerings to reflect market realities, there will either be no market or the prices will be so astronomically high that the market will be inaccessible for the majority of consumers?
There is an opportunity to be heard on this. Go to the FCC blog set up here to receive comments and tell them that there is nothing neutral about "net neutrality." You can find out more about this issue at the Technology Liberation Front site here.