One Q at a Time: Should The Internet Be Free?

I have a list of questions that I’ve received via email that I’ve compiled into a Word doc.  I’m going to go through them one by one, because I think most of them are great topics.  Send your questions to MKinMotion[at]gmail[dot]com.

Q:  Where does MKinMotion weigh in on Net Neutrality?

That’s right, I’ll kick it off with a little political question.  There’s a saying that the only problem with politics is the politicians, which very well might be true, but sometimes it’s just the actual politics that get in the way.  I think net neutrality is one of those issues.  Congress will always have a problem when it is suggested that the status quo be legislated.  We have net neutrality currently (unless you want my Comcast or Google conspiracy theories, but no one asked for that).  For anywhere from $0 to a million dollars, a consumer or business can gain access to the internet.  When someone types www.mkinmotion.com into their web browser, it takes them there, when they type www.whitehouse.gov or www.cnn.com, etc. it takes them there.  Whether you are a goverment entity, a zillion dollar media corporation or a humble blogger, everyone has the same access to your stuff.

There are theories, however, that suggest that internet providers will start to favor web sites and services that pay them a payola of sorts to make their sites more reliable or perhaps make their competitors less reliable.  There are also suggestions out there that a consumer would have to pay more to have the access they have today and they could pay what they’re paying now for a tainted internet.  We’re using the internet more and more for more and more things, and I don’t see that stopping.  I think this has a certain industry up in arms.  Because keep in mind when I say competitors, I’m not talking the competition between say MSNBC.com and CNN.com.  I’m talking AT&T vs. Skype, or Comcast vs. the guy in your neighborhood with open WiFi, or Sprint vs. Vonage.  Most huge companies got huge by doing something smart or investing a lot of capital and having that investment pay off.  Now that these giant telecom companies built an infrastructure that has made them gazillions of dollars over the last several decades, they’re getting really nervous about all the services that are popping up that work around the traditional methods.  The people who are the most passionate about net neutrality believe that internet providers will prevent the use of such things as VoIP, bit torrent, etc.  

Where politicians come into this is where it gets messy.  As with any issue these days, the two political parties try to establish a party line.  You might think that the Republican party would be for network neutrality:  Traditionally they’re for the status quo and against the bureaucracy that government oversight of the internet would cause.  However, my years in the telecom industry taught me a lot of things and one of them is that the Telecom lobby is very strong.  They’re in the pockets of a lot of the “influencial” (read: “senior” or read: “Ted Stevens”) Republicans, and because no one in either party has the guts to express their own opinion…especially in an election year.  The Democrats aren’t any better at this game because they have their anti-posterboy in Stevens (also here and here) they don’t really do anything but say they don’t agree with Ted.  They talk a good game, but ultimately end up doing nothing.  That was their strategy in the 2004 election and we all know how well that worked for them.  

Public From Both Political Parties: “Um, Senator Kerry, you say you have a plan for getting our troops out of Iraq and winning the war on terror, we’d love to hear your plan, in fact we all might vote for you if you could do both of those things with your plan.”

John Kerry: “Yes, I have a plan.  I was in Vietnam while Mr. Bush was serving in the National Guard.”

Public: “But what is the plan?”

Kerry: “I have a plan.”

Public: “Nevermind, status quo must not be that bad.”

 

So yes, MKinMotion is for neutrality of the internet, and I think we need to take some time to legislate it in order to keep it free…not free of cost but freedom free.

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