My net neutrality opinion, free of charge

Posted by – November 23, 2017

Net neutrality is a heavy-handed regulation that’s probably not necessary; antitrust laws are enough. Net neutrality isn’t really about censorship worries but about market conditions for network infrastructure suppliers vs. data consumers.

Most opposition to net neutrality, though masked in talk about “openness” and “freedom”, is driven by the consumers of large amounts of data traffic (eg. Netflix and its customers) who are essentially looking for a free ride. The owners of the networking infrastructure want to be able to negotiate for payments from those heavy users. Net neutrality blocks this, and forces everyone to pay for HD video transmission capacity across the network whether or not they want Netflix.

Regardless of net neutrality, most people choose centralized, controlled, non-neutral places like Facebook for everything anyway. (I don’t like that and I don’t do that, but that’s people.)

For worries about networks and content ending up in the same hands, with the networks favouring their own content, we already have regulations about free competition. So we don’t need net neutrality, it’s an unnecessary regulation, and I’m opposed to unnecessary regulations on principle.

1 Comment on My net neutrality opinion, free of charge

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  1. sam says:

    FB comments:

    Miikka Silfverberg: Isn’t it possible to charge per megabyte of transferred data? And wouldn’t this be completely sufficient for equalizing the situation between customers who use streaming services and customers who do not? I’ve understood that one big concern is that operators might have a discount price for certain services like Netflix. This would make it much harder for new competitors to enter the streaming business because customers would be forced to initially pay a greater price for them and/or operators might simply block all other streaming services.

    Sam Hardwick: Maybe. The limiting factor for networks isn’t total throughput though, it’s max throughput. So a bunch of residential 100M lines will be dormant for most of the day, and then in the evening people come home from work and start video streaming. The ISP doesn’t actually provide enough bandwidth for everyone to use anything like 100M at the same time, but that slack they have gets less and less the more eg. television viewing switches to the Internet.

    Why not allow them to have whatever pricing model they want, let competition sort it out and only step in if something terrible happens? They’re not going to start charging extra for Wikipedia access or whatever, that’s cheap no matter how you use it.

    I do agree that there’s a potential collusion problem between service providers and content providers. That’s what I hoped antitrust / competition regulations would take care of.

    Miikka Silfverberg: The reality of internet service in the US currently is so sad that I really don’t have much trust in competition in the field. One thing that really surprised me when I moved here was the poor quality and high price of internet connections both for homes and phones. It’s not rare to pay $50-70 per month for home internet service or $50 for 4G data connection (LTE 4G). Moreover, monthly data transfer for the phone is often limited (5GB with the 4G LTE plan) or the operator will throttle the connection after the customer uses a given amount of data. Competition doesn’t seem to be pressing down the prices for some reason and this makes me distrustful of what’ll happen.

    Sampo Smolander: New Jersey here. About $50 per month for home internet from Verizon or Comcast, but it’s 50M/50M. You don’t get that speed any cheaper in Finland.

    Sam Hardwick: My omakotitalo VDSL in Helsinki is 50/10 for 32.90 eur = 39 usd. I think housing density affects network prices quite a lot.

    Sam Hardwick: Apropos of that, there are many forms of “neutrality” – Finnish politicians probably haven’t given much thought to net neutrality, but I can imagine them getting pretty excited about geographic neutrality where ISPs have to serve everyone at the same price no matter where they live (ie. how much it costs to service them).

    Miikka Silfverberg: As Sam’s example shows, residential Internet connection really is cheaper in Finland. Mobile data is substantially cheaper and the plans are substantially better for the customer due to the lack of limits and throttling. These prices apply in the centre of Denver. I think housing density here is sufficiently high.