Every week we hear a new rationale against net neutrality legislation – telcos want to provide “high value” services, or a “private Internet,” or “virtual private networks,” all of which allegedly would be prohibited by a requirement that they not use their last-mile bottleneck to discriminate against Internet services, content and applications in which they do not have a financial interest. Now, AP reports that the telcos fear that high definition video will clog the Internet, and that they want to be able to charge video providers to “guarantee” delivery of that content..
I'm sorry to say that this latest rationale for discrimination doesn't wash either. These fears (how ironic that the pro-NN forces are the ones accused of fear-mongering) are based on absurd assumptions about how people use the Internet – that people will start watching streaming video like they do regular TV – for 8 hours a day, or that, as the AP story states “everyone in a neighborhood is trying to download the evening news at the same time.” We know that this won't happen any time soon, if ever. Also, and this should be no surprise, the telcos are not revealing how much it would really cost to provide the best solution to the problem – building a fatter pipe.
Indeed, Internet2's Gary Bachula testified a few months ago that the best, and most cost-effective way to deal with any capacity issues is to make the pipe fatter. Internet2, which is the next-generation Internet available only at Universities and colleges, considered both a discrimination-based model and a 100 MG pipe model, and chose the latter. If telcos and cable companies are permitted to create a two-lane Internet w. tolls for access to the high-speed lane, they will have no incentive to build the fat pipe, because they would then lose the revenue from the high-speed lane.
In the short term, there are other non-discriminatory ways to deal with this so-called “choking” of the Internet. One way is to put a cap on he amount of data that a user gets for free, and then charge extra if that person uses more, like cellphone usage. To the extent that the telcos argue that only a small fraction of broadband users are “bandwidth hogs,” most users will be unaffected, and the broadband companies can recover their costs