Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Net Neutrality Questioned

Without net neutrality laws, content availability may govern platform success. Level 3 is arguing that the barriers to entry in the broadband marketplace is raised to a point where unfair competition occurs. "Level 3, which helps to deliver Netflix’s streaming movies, said Comcast had effectively erected a tollbooth that 'threatens the open Internet,' and indicated that it would seek government intervention. Comcast quickly denied that the clash had anything to do with network neutrality, instead calling it 'a simple commercial dispute.'” Should this concern the government, not to mention the public, seeking cord cutting alternatives to cable subscription fees? And should it be a concern, especially with the merger talks concluding with Comcast and NBCU?

This news certainly is coming out at an inopportune time. Preferential treatment for some content creators over others, could be argued. "In theory, without government action, Comcast could speed up streams of NBC programs and slow down streams of its rivals’ programs."

More is at stake than this one issue. As file sizes get larger, demand grows, and the bandwidth gets maxed out, then something has got to give. Should a free capital market put the onus on who can afford to pay for better treatment? Is it really possible to be completely equitable? With more mobile and web based activity, traffic needs to be managed properly; otherwise, you have delays and traffic jams for all. As long as broadband content gets through and is not stopped completely, then maybe a free market system is the way to go.