Following Wednesday's post about the role of government at the intersection of Marketing and the Internet comes the latest news about "net neutrality".
The actual term is "network neutrality", a concept where all Internet access would be treated equally. All access to all content would be available at the same speed. There's a complete article on Wikipedia describing it fully. In any case, it sounds like an appealing concept, doesn't it?
Not so fast...
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission tried to enforce net neutrality last year, but the courts ruled that the Internet falls outside their jurisdiction. The FCC regulates broadcast communications only, not even cable television, while the Internet counts as an "information service".
You get what you pay for
The opposite of net neutrality is a tiered system, where Internet users would pay their service providers a premium to access certain content faster. This would depend on an arrangement among Internet service providers such as Verizon, content providers and users willing to pay more.
The latest news
Since the FCC is powerless (for now) to enforce net neutrality, those who own the networks are starting to arrange tiered systems. This week the New York Times reported that Google and Verizon are close to such a deal; today Google and Verizon denied it, saying they were continuing to talk to the government. The FCC says that the talks are on hold for the moment.
What's my position on net neutrality?
No one can say how this will play out. The starry-eyed idealist in me wants to believe in net neutrality because it sounds fair and equal. Yet the Internet is not a government program, it's a commercial enterprise. Said differently, it's publishing.
If net neutrality had been applied to newspapers and magazines, then every consumer would have paid the same price for each magazine they received, no matter how premium the content or how many pages it required.
You may perceive that I haven't decided what I think about this. Please use the comments section to sway me to one side or the other.