Monday, August 9, 2010

Net Neutrality Fear-Mongering, Part II

So there’s going to be two Internets now, if Google and Verizon have their way? One for all the crap that’s out there, including this blog, and the other, electroplated with gold or platinum, for the stuff that the content providers want people to pay for?

Okay. Don’t we already have that? To some degree, at least?

Hulu is experimenting with paid content now. And there are sites ranging from things like to – not to forget any number of newspaper websites out there – where some stuff is offered for free, but the “premium” stuff is behind a paywall.

Why, then, are Google and Verizon being called the new Internet Axis of Evil?

Google has outlined the policy on its Public Policy Blog here.

So yeah, two Internets. One for all the free stuff, the other for stuff people would have to pay for. Kind of like broadcast television and cable television.
We want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they don’t interfere with the continued development of Internet access services. takes it apart here.

Here’s the thing: Content costs money. Most of the folks on the Internet today like to forget that part unless, of course, they’re on the creation end of content and then they realize that, for the most part, giving it away isn’t paying the bills. Yes, here’s the rub – this is going to be yet another dividing line between old media and new media, the corporations versus the Internets, with all the evil on the one hand and the innocent truculence on the other hand.

Wired doesn’t seem to think there would be a have versus have-nots on the two Internets, seeing as the “free” stuff is what most customers want anyway They quote Google CEO Eric Schmidt:
“There seems to be a concern that somehow the investment, because of this, would move from the open internet to other things,” said Schmidt. “They way [the proposal] is written, that’s not possible. Furthermore, Verizon and others have a large financial incentive to make the open internet — the public internet — more useful, simply because it’s what their customers want.

“Frankly, if they were to choose to degrade it, other competitors would enter the market. But of course, they’ve promised not to do that anyway… there’s enough excess supply that they should be able to handle both. And according to this, they’re not allowed to prioritize against the open internet. And I told our friends at Verizon that we will continue to enforce these principles.”
If a service or website gets uppity and moves to the pay-per-internet, the folks who don’t want to pay will leave. Some other upstart will swoop in swiftly to fill the vacuum on the free internet. All will be right with the world again.

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