Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The real truth about Net Neutrality

You've probably heard and read a lot about this hot button topic. Lots of ads on TV and Radio, in News Papers and, OC, all over the 'Net. Seems everyone has an opinion on it. After doing some serious, and hopefully impartial, research, I have whittled away all the hype, misinformation and outright lies to get at the real truth of the matter. You don't have to believe me. You don't have to agree with me. But what I'm going to say it the real underlying truth no matter what you believe in or agree with. The Earth is the Earth, the Sun is the Sun and this is the real, undeniable, irrefutable deal.

Let's start with a definition of what Net Neutrality means. Well, this is our first hurdle. The term means different things depending on which side of the fence you are sitting. So what are the sides to this fence? This is a better place to begin.

There was a good article in the Washington Post yesterday that did a really good job of explaining the who and what [free registration required] of this touchy topic. I'll give the dime version of the article here.

The bottom line is who will foot the bigass bill for the future infrastructure of the Internet. No, that's not quite right, it's who will be the one to gouge the hell out of us users for the future infrastructure of the Internet. The two camps that are fighting this war are the Telcos, AT&T and BellSouth Corp., among others, and the big content providers, like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, etc. Their two respective "Grassroots Sites" are http://www.handsoff.org and http://itsournet.org. If you dig around these sights it's not an easy link to make, but it is there. So what happens if one side wins over the other? If the Telcos win, they jack up the rates we users pay. If it's the content providers, they'll implement tiered and/or metered pricing for premium services like VOD, VoIP, etc. Either way, we're screwed.

Some other areas of influence are exerting themselves, too. SavetheInternet.com is interesting in that it's backed by what would normally be blood enemies. MoveOn.org Civic Action on the political left to the Christian Coalition of America on the right. Throw in the nonpartisan group Free Press and you have a hodgepodge of disparate organizations tell you to do something or other about this crucial issue. What that might be? Your guess is a good as mine. It's also likely that the FSF and EFF are in on this as well. I'm to lazy to look up their stuff, though.

One organization you might not know of is the US Internet Industry Association. This is an organization that has been around for over a decade fighting directly in Congress and on Capitol Hill. They are the only organization, and do mean ONLY, that has been consistently fighting for common sense and reason in the legal system of the US. If you are donating any funds, either by direct donation or membership dues, to any of the other organizations I've mentioned then I strongly encourage you to join the USIIA. They are the only ones (have I mentioned that before?) that are actually making changes as opposed to headlines. Not that the EFF or FSF aren't trying to do something. They just aren't actually having any impact on anything outside of the tech community.

And that's it. Everything you never wanted to know about the whole mess euphemistically called Net Neutrality. It doesn't matter what happens, the users will get the bill and that's the bottom line. If you still feel like tilting at windmills don't let me stop you. But it might be easier to spend the energy doing something more constructive. Like basket weaving.

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