Net Neutrality is Like…

May 21, 2012

Net neutrality is a different thing to different people.

I am not sure what my position in all this is – only thing I know is that some services require a different type of “SLA” from the network – be it more bandwidth, lower latency, less jitter or less disruptions or anything else.

A dumb pipe trying to explain what net neutrality is

Net neutrality is usually compared to other services by both supporters and detractors of the concept. On The Next Web, Susan Crawford was said to claim that:

“High-speed Internet should be a utility like water, open to all and carrying all data neutrally.”

Some questions here:

  • We pay for the water we use by the liter or gallon – do we pay for it with bandwidth caps then? Isn’t that messing around with net neutrality by definition?
  • You get water in your house, but then most of us in the developed world are buying bottled water for drinking water, or have our own purification system installed for our house or in our kitchen.
  • Oh, and there are whole countries with no drinking water to speak of. They need to purify their drinking water on their own.
  • We don’t really drink more than we used to. We use more water, but not at the scales and extent that broadband internet usage is expected to grow. How do you handle that as a utility?

It got me to look for some more comparisons of net neutrality, and here’s what I came up with (some are rather old but relevant nonetheless):

 Net Neutrality is like…

Doug Glass from 2008 on The Register:

“…virginity. Everybody starts with it, it stays longer for some than others, but sooner or later it’s lost. Best to plan ahead now because the fat lady is warming up.”

Definitely my favorite. It means that net neutrality should be all about the lowest common denominator of internet access service.

Matt Sommer on Twitter:

“…wind resistance in that I can never remember if I want more or less.”

True. People will want or don’t want net neutrality based on what they want to access at any given point in time.

Center for Individual Freedom:

“…telling a railroad that it cannot treat a customer moving twenty railcars of freight any differently than it treats a customer moving one crate of goods.”

Well… yes. You don’t treat them differently. Do you?

Jason Meyer commenting on Ludwig von Mises Institute:

“…deciding on what flavor of ice cream to order in a world where there is only vanilla and chocolate.”

More like ordering an ice cream where all flavors cost the same. I think.

billbowen commenting on RedState:

“…the word ‘vegetable’ – it covers a wide range of things.”

True. First you need to decide what net neutrality is and then we can have an argument a conversation.

Arby commenting on The Lessons Applied:

“…keeping all highways open to any delivery truck to bring through packets at whatever speed that truck and driver can.”

Yap. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The solution here is usually to not let trucks on the highway or limit them by the time in the day – which is… not net neutrality anymore.

Nick Mokey on Digital Trends:

“The lack of net neutrality is like throwing down cones to make the left lane a high-speed toll lane. Can’t pay? Sit in line with the schmucks.”

Nick, think about Arby’s trucks… not sure you want them in your lane do you?

Back to you guys: what’s net neutrality like in your view?

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