At first, the FCC's embrace of "net neutrality" laws--which the Wire covered here--was welcomed with a chorus of hosannas from tech bloggers and liberals who saw it as a triumph of entrepreneurs and consumers over telecommunications behemoths. Today, opponents of the plan paint a darker picture.
Why? Obviously, telecommunications companies oppose the plan as a blow to their business, as do Republicans in Congress. But there are also independent pundits who argue that the laws may hurt consumers by making it more difficult for Internet providers to prevent a few power downloaders from hogging bandwidth. Business-minded writers also object to helping Google and Skype construct thriving businesses on the networks that telecommunications companies built at great cost.
Here's what they have against yesterday's move:
- Heralds the End of "All You Can Eat" Internet, writes Dylan F. Tweney in a comprehensive take-down of net neutrality at Wired. "Unfortunately, there are at least three big problems with making net neutrality a federal mandate. First is that bandwidth is not, in fact, unlimited, especially in the wireless world...Second, enforcement of neutrality regulations is going to be difficult...Third, the new regulations create an additional layer of government bureaucracy where the free market has already proven its effectiveness. The reason you're not using AOL to read this right now isn't because the government mandated AOL's closed network out of existence: It's because free and open networks triumphed, and that's because they were good business."
- Puts Google Above Telecom Companies, writes the Wall Street Journal's editorial board. "The new policy is a big political victory for Google and other Web content providers whose business model depends on free-loading off the huge capital investments in broadband made by others...It's as if the government were saying that if you want to start a supermarket, it has to be a Kroger or Safeway because Trader Joe's discriminates."
- Hurts Companies Who Invested in Networks, says Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land. "The traditional carriers, who've invested billions in building the networks, won't sit by and watch their fees evaporate and watch their business go third parties who piggyback on top of those networks without some sort of a fight."
- Hurts Heavy Web Users, suggests the Atlantic's own Daniel Indiviglio. "The more bandwidth consumers use, the more it costs internet providers,
without a corresponding increase in revenue; thus, more usage lowers
their profits and provides less money to invest on new infrastructure. That's why I worry that the all-you-can-surf model for internet access
is not sustainable."