FCC Commissioners Gone Wild

by Colin Berkshire

You may think the following is fear mongering about what will happen when net-neutrality is lost. But things like these stories happened in the 1920s when there was no net-neutrality in the telecommunications network…a problem so serious that in 1934 the regulatory framework that served the United States was formed.

  • Netflix pays Comcast a 50% royalty for favored network access. As a result, Netflix prices must double. Competitors to Netflix are either refused access to the network entirely, or their traffic is so erratically handled that watching videos is impossible.
  • Comcast owner several telecommunications companies like NBC and Universal Studios. They give preferential treatment whenever their owned content is being transmitted. But when competitive content is being transmitted (such as ABC, Disney or Pixar) the video quality is degraded and jerky.
  • You live in a neighborhood without any competition to Comcast. You pay twice the rate of people in the next community over, which does have competition. When competition threatens to enter your neighborhood Comcast gives everybody 12 month 50% off coupons. The competition decides not to enter your neighborhood.
  • You go to Amazon.com to do some shopping. Before you are allowed to go there, you mist watch a 15 second video on Walmart’s online shopping service. Every Amazon page has an ad for Walmart at the top…inserted by Comcast.
  • You are having problems getting updates on your iPhone. AT&T on their broadband network has decided to block all Apple update traffic except from 2AM to 6AM because it is “disruptive” to their network.
  • In the middle of a YouTube show you find a string of 5 minutes of video commercials. These were inserted into the stream by your cable company because you didn’t subscribe to their premium no-inserted commercial service.
  • Your email messages are all read and scanned for keywords. Based upon the emails you send you are bombarded with online ads related to your love life. The most obnoxious of them is the ad chastising you for using Spanish in your emails and offering you English lessons online for just $9.95 a month.
  • You suddenly find that you cannot send email attachments larger than 1 megabyte. After some research you find that you must purchase the “large email attachment” option for just 99-cents a month for the first 12 months, and just $4.99 a month thereafter. You decide to opt for the $1.99 a month alternative that they begrudgingly offer you which compresses all of your photos down to low resolution.
  • Your local internet company happens to have been recently purchased by the “Almighty Church”. You are discovering that any attempt to link to any website that offers information on abortion is blocked, searches for STD prevention get redirected to abstinence promotion websites when you click through, and there is no way to access any information on non-Christian beliefs such as Buddhism, Muslim, or Jain.

Really, this stuff could happen without net-neutrality. Heck, if I was a radical fundamentalist Evangelical Christian leader I would certainly buy my local internet service company so that I could keep my flock faithful and protect them from the evils of a free and open internet.