I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of coverage today on the topic of Net Neutrality being repealed by the Federal Communications Commission.
What is “Net Neutrality”?
In essence, it portends to be the level playing ground that will keep internet and communication companies competitive by not allowing them to charge more for competitive services or less for their own service.
Example: Charter cable couldn’t (under Net Neutrality regulation) charge a fee to stream Netflix nor could they do what’s known as zero-rate their own service. In other words, they’d have to penalize you or not penalize you for either service. There couldn’t be an imbalance.
What “Net Neutrality” is NOT ...
Many are framing the argument that it’s the regulation that sticks it to the big corporations like Charter, Comcast, AT&T, or Verizon - that it’s the regulation that was put into place in 2015 by the Obama administration that was your defense - because dang it - these companies are evil and they have bad customer service and forget them!
Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with making evil companies better or any company competitive - like big guys (think Charter) vs small guys (think Northland Cable) in the market.
I used to be a heavy supporter for Net Neutrality. I admit I drank the kool-aid and I fought hard to keep my sugar rush of what I thought was freedom on the internet. I was told there’d be higher prices. I was told there’d be anti-competitive monopolies. Then, in 2014, Verizon did something rather odd. In a move to end their unlimited plans, they decided to limit specific streaming service Netflix for its users. Why? The biggest reason is that Verizon was trying to push its own streaming services up North. Verizon’s biggest cellular customers were also starting to complain about network congestion. So, Verizon made up this ridiculous restriction on their network which wasn’t even at 85% capacity in most areas - in an aim to publicly pronounce “measures to please our customers”.
I thought, “Evil Verizon, I moan git em!” I put a lot of advocacy into fighting FOR Net Neutrality."
Then, a good friend and trusted politician posed this question to me,
“How can you be against socialism, yet for socialistic internet?”
He explained that “a level playing ground” in economics, sociopolitical ideals, or the internet is just the last word to fill in the blank of this sentence...
“Socialism aims to make the playing field level for all people in regards to _______________.”
He asked me to think about that for a week and then call him back.
I’m the kind of guy that is stubborn about facts and sticking to those stubborn facts. However, even with my arsenal of good reasons to support Net Neutrality, I didn’t have an answer for him.
Then, Trump was elected. With him came a new appointment to the FCC named Ajit Pai.
Pai promised that there’d be little to no enforcement of Net Neutrality rules. Immediately, AT&T offered a new unlimited wireless plan to compete against T-Mobile who had been gaining subscriber ground for a few quarters. Then Verizon brought back their unlimited plan. Then AT&T one upped them all by giving a steep discount on DirecTV and giving away AppleTV devices to stream TV and offering free wireless to WiFi connections (tethering) - services that were usually $40 each to add.
My monthly AT&T bill went down over $100 and I was getting many more perks and services.
T-mobile started offering free Netflix and free streaming of Netflix. Last week they announced that they too will start offering a TV streaming service soon - one that will outprice AT&T.
To make my point - all I see is competition. All the talk about there being anti-competitiveness is just that - talk.