I consider the internet to be one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. I love how it brings me infinite amounts of information at blazing speeds wherever I am. The internet is a major part of my life and I think a large majority of people would agree that it contributes a significant part to their lives as well. Upon learning about the topic (net neutrality) for our final blog, I had no idea what that was. I did some research and I now have a greater understanding of what net neutrality is, and what the arguments surrounding it are.
It took me a while to get a grasp on what net neutrality is and Information Week sympathizes with my frustrations to find a solid definition. “Net neutrality is so contentious that many people debating it cannot even agree on a definition” (Jones, 2007). However, after reading various articles I have come to the conclusion that net neutrality is an internet where all websites are considered equal, and people can access content without any higher entity interfering. As we all know from this class, the internet we use today allows information to move in data packets with almost no regard for what type of information or applications they contain or who created them. The debate over net neutrality is should the internet remain the way it is today where people can roam free and access any website they wish, or, have the internet regulated by major corporations for a fee.
Proponents or internet-based companies for net neutrality such as Google and Yahoo!, want the internet to stay neutral. People access their information and content without any obstacles. Their success comes largely from the current function of the internet and the infrastructure (or pipes) put down by companies (opponents) like AT&T, Verizon Communications, Time Warner and Comcast. If net neutrality didn’t exist, these big businesses would have control over what websites are faster and which have more priority over others. A website that is irrelevant to lets say Time Warner or doesn’t portray them in a good light can be very slow to access or even banned. Many people think of this as discrimination or a violation of freedom of speech. I tend to agree with that. If the internet is divided up, I may not be able to read someone’s opinion about the next election because a certain big name company happens to believe in an opposing political arena.
Internet-based companies like Amazon.com, Google, and Yahoo! are said to consume a lot of bandwidth from the other aforementioned companies (opponents) for no cost. The opponents of net neutrality say that “Companies that refuse to pay might find their content moving at slower speeds over the pipeline than the content of those companies that do pay” (WSJ, 2006). This would ultimately hurt the internet-based companies and more specifically the public. Proponents are fighting hard everyday to protect their companies and their consumers.
The opponents want control over the internet. They pay for the foundation of the internet so they want to structure it as they see fit. This means no government regulation as well. The CEO of AT&T feels that it is totally unfair that other small company’s profit off of their expenditures. Edward Whitacre stated, “We and the cable companies have made an investment, and for a Google or Yahoo or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes free is nuts.” After hearing many of the big company’s’ arguments one could get a sense that they are just looking to make more of a profit for themselves.
I feel the internet should stay the way it is today. I am for net neutrality. I have no problems with it and I enjoy being able to access any website at a fast rate. One of the biggest things about the internet is that it allows people to share their information and opinions. If a big company or opponent of net neutrality blocks that because it doesn’t favor them I would be extremely upset. I know that nothing in the world is free, but to have to pay for internet access that doesn’t even live up to your expectations is absurd. I know websites aren’t people, but like people, websites should not be discriminated or segregated against because they all contain the thoughts, facts and opinions of real people.
Network neutrality. (2007, April 11). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:46, April 12, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Network_neutrality&oldid=122005930
Jones, K. C. (2007, March 16). Informationweek.com. Retrieved April 12, 2007, from http://www.informationweek.com/shared/printableArticle.jhtml?articleID=198001557
Efrati, Amir. (September, 2006). The Wall Street Journal: A