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Net neutrality

Note. This was a silly argument and just ran amok in my head. I've updated my position on my blog. While this little diatribe is embarrassing, it serves as a reminder of my foolishness.

Position: against.

the net is already not neutral. google and akamai have higher penetration than other companies because they have more money and resources.

i'm against net neutrality, i think. nice idea. so was communism. you should get whatever QoS you pay for. if you want a fat pipe to the net and a fat pipe for your users, you should get it if you pay for it. flat pricing is nice but not a good idea for now. it will get there eventually just like the price of long-distance and international calls have fallen to almost zero without any external intervention.

for example, if you have a shop, you'll make the shop pretty AND help to pay to maintain roads leading to your shop and public transport that goes by your shop. even if the government doesn't chip in a cent, right?

just to be clear: ISPs should NOT be allowed to select which applications get priority -- one should be able to use contracted bandwith how one likes. you can use your metered electricity how you want, and the same should apply to your bandwidth.

so, if i live in london and pay taxes in london, i shouldn't have to pay a congestion charge to use my car in london. this is one requirement of a free-access model. aside: while the congestion charge HAS helped lower traffic in the city, it wouldn't be needed if *all* roads were toll roads, corporate-sponsored, or some combination thereof.

net neutrality supposedly evens the playing field. it will work, it isn't a terrible idea, but it is inefficient and will slow down or stifle innovation. continuing the previous example (on shops/roads), the government currently maintains roads and public transport systems at the public's expense for public enjoyment and usage, rather inefficiently. including, perhaps, a bridge to an island that almost no one except some guy in city hall uses, paid for by the taxpayer. there is no incentive to spending money wisely. it doesn't affect the decision maker's paycheck directly. having _private_ roads might be a better idea as the onus is then upon the private company to keep it clean and neat and fast. you won't use a pothole-pockmared road to get to a shop if you can get the same stuff somewhere else more easily. private enterprise is usually more astute, better, and cheaper at providing services, current economic state notwithstanding. this was one of the premises for america. "The business of America is business" - Calvin Coolidge. do you see the word "regulation" in there anywhere?

look at public transportation: the MBTA (boston's public transit system) is going to raise fares again within a short period of time, during which, the harvard hospitals (private) continue to operate FREE, frequent shuttle buses between their locations. at one major stop, they even have a big plasma screen that shows live, on a map, where each bus currently is. this is light-years ahead of what the MBTA currently offers. to be fair, the MBTA has a *lot* more stops, and services many, many more people.

to be sure, there will be freeloaders on privately sponsored bandwidth (or a private bus service), there will need to be some (limited) oversight by a team made of producers and consumers of services, and there will be some indiscriminate resource hogging (look up "Tragedy of the Commons"). none of these are insurmountable; these can be solved without ham-handed government-imposed net neutrality. we don't need legislation to fix something that's broken. we need to try make sure that it doesn't break in the first place.