Friday, June 23, 2006

How to Get Net Neutrality When Lawmakers Won’t Give It to You

ISPs are bent on forcing internet companies to pay extortion fees in order to get preferential treatment over their competitors and our lawmakers aren't going to do anything about it. This is threatening to make the Internet a hostile place to innovation, where companies both big and small have to pay a toll to the ISP gatekeepers in order to stay afloat. Can anything be done to stop them?


Google, Ebay, Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Craigslist should form an alliance wherein all members vow to completely cut off any ISP who attempts to force extortion fees upon any of the alliance's members.

This alliance should be called the Net Neutrality Alliance. It should be open to any Internet company, but it's critical that all the major players participate. Otherwise, the ones that do participate would fear losing market share -- due to lower quality of service imposed on them by the ISP -- to the ones that don't, and the alliance would collapse.

Discrimination can go both ways, and ISPs can lose in this game just as badly as the Internet companies. How many Verizon customers would keep their accounts if they couldn't search on Google, shop on Amazon, or search for apartments or jobs Craigslist? Not many. Even in a largely monopolistic market such as cable, users would only put up with so much before they switch.

The main reason people pay for Internet connection is the content. If a vast pool of useful content disappeared from an ISP's network, its customers would go somewhere else. No ISP would want that to happen, even if it means it has to generate revenue the old fashioned way: by selling Internet access to its customers.

The Internet is an ecosystem in which the fates of the ISPs and the content providers are more tightly linked than the ISPs realize. Nothing can make this clearer than a strong unified front.

1 comment:

BentR said...

Amen! In related news: