Archive for January, 2014

In late 2010 the FCC enacted a set of rules known as the Open Internet Order to stop deals between Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) and content providers.  This meant, for example, Giant Movie Provider could not pay an ISP to have its HD movies stream fluidly while Itsy Bitsy Movie Provider’s films were only given enough bandwidth to appear like pixelated images shot while using a stroboscope for illumination.  Or imagine Bank Q’s homepage opens in a millisecond, whereas Bank B’s homepage opens in 20 seconds.  Or even imagine that Bank B’s content, which is entirely legal, is blocked by your ISP.  Having such commercial arrangements would give businesses with deep pockets a major advantage.  

Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, ruled that rules that bar ISP’s from charging content providers are invalid.  This will give ISP’s incentive to make deals with whoever can pay them the most.  Although plaintiffs argued that this was necessary for innovation, as far as I can tell, providing the wealthiest content providers with the fastest access to customers will further ossify the existing structure thereby reducing competition, which in turn will diminish innovation.

In the press, an aspect I have not seen mentioned is that much of the backbone of the Internet in this country is paid for by our taxes.  ISP’s provide some of the infrastructure but mainly what they provide are onramps for people like you and me.  They charge us monthly fees to use those onramps.  Of course for traffic/content coming from content providers such as Netflix, the on-ramp you are using is their off-ramp.  Now ISP’s have a means of charging for traffic going in both directions.  This could restrict or make difficult access to certain information.  If you wish to learn more about this, please read the other posts in this series which can be accessed using the following link:



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