Skip to main content

Thoughts on net neutrality: What if the little guy becomes the competitor

As the net neutrality debate rages in the US and feels fresh, it's easy to forget just how long this thing has been raging. While searching for a post over at my personal website I stumbled onto a forgotten analysis from April 2006, when I lived on the East Coast of the States and had Verizon FiOS.

Over in America, critics complain that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeks to create two Internet Information Highways - one fast lane and the other slow. But something I identified seven years ago is still relevant today.

Apologies for quoting myself:

"Some net providers would like to give preference to their services, even penalising competitors. But what is a competing service? How about you and me? There has been too much focus on net non-neutrality as being a business-against-business thing, where consumers might get less choice and so be harmed. I reckon the big net providers would just as easily compete with their customers. I’ve got email running off my own domain. What would prevent my provider, Verizon, from favouring email routed through its servers and putting the brakes on email sent off my domain? The competitor pushed to the slow lane would be me, or you."

Think about this concept in context of the FCC proposal establishing fast and slow lanes, and where a user might host a website at one place but Comcast or Verizon becomes a registrar and wants them to use their service instead. Or, again, their email rather than the one from the user's domain.

This idea varies from ISPs favouring one service over another and potentially causing consumer harm. In this case, the humble user is the competitor. What's to keep you from getting pushed to the slow lane and run over? You tell me.

Image Credit: sunabesyou/Shutterstock