The Case Against Net Neutrality

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I am a strong believer in Net Neutrality. That is, I believe that Comcast is a common carrier and they should be colorblind as to the traffic that they carry. If they sell 50 megabit service they should delivery 50 megabit service for movies and for emails.

But I can see Comcast’s point of view from an historical perspective.

  • Consider the trucking industry. Shipping via a common carrier trucking company is complex. The rate you pay for shipping used computer tapes is different from the rate for new ones. There is a different rate for wool products. And a different rate for plastic articles. This goes back to the railroads which charged every industry differently, based upon what that industry could bear.
  • Airlines charge a child a different rate than an adult, sometimes. A one-way ticket can cost more than a two way ticket. First class is different from coach. A dog ships for a different rate than a box of peanuts.
  • Don’t even get me started on hospitals which are perhaps the most discriminatory of all, penalizing the poor while giving generous discounts to the rich.
  • Your city bus service charges a different rate for an able adult than for a disabled adult or elderly adult.
  • Your power company charges different rates per kWh for homes and businesses.
  • A tollway charges a car a different for a camper or a truck.
  • In California your property tax rate is different than your neighbor’s based upon when you purchased your home.
  • Income taxes are different rates based upon how much you make.

The fact is that pricing in America is highly discriminatory. So I can see Comcast’s frustration that they can’t discriminate and charge you a higher price for watching movies simply because you would pay it anyway.

So the next time you ask your boss for a raise simply because you are worth more than a co-worker, remember that Comcast wants to do the same thing to you. It’s not really any different.

Now, as a matter of national policy I would support the notion that a company cannot discriminate and that they charge everybody the same.  I support Net Neutrality. But keep in mind that the American system is not based on fairness. It is based upon taking the most money it can from people.

Colin Berkshire