Save the Free Internet and Internet Neutrality
A free Internet is a unique national resource
Laws and Bills That Allow Censorship
By Government and Service Providers
. On the Internet as we know it, everyone is connected to the same pipes. We call this Internet Neutrality, that is, a free Internet. Do you want to save a free Internet or do you want an Internet censored by government and service providers? Laws and regulations can threaten the freedom and neutrality of the internet. The proposed two-tier Internet offers preferential treatment for those who pay more. It is the opposite of a free Internet and Internet Neutrality.
A free Internet means Internet neutrality. A free Internet has no restrictions by Internet service providers or governments on consumers' access to networks that participate in the Internet. Specifically, a free Internet prevents censorship of content, websites, platforms and types of equipment that may be attached to the Internet. A free Internet also supports unrestricted and uncensored communication channels.
What Does Internet Neutrality Mean for a Free Internet?
Network Neutrality is the founding cornerstone of a Free Internet. It means that government and Internet service providers can’t speed up or slow down the delivery of Web content. It means that Internet providers cannot discriminate based on who owns, ships or receives the content. They are not allowed to selectively interfere with the content that runs across the pipes. With a Free Internet, the New York Times, Home Depot, Facebook and your favorite church move their data on the same level playing field.
The policy of network neutrality on the Internet gives everyone equal access to web services and content. It prevents government and telecommunication companies from discriminating among users of the Free Internet. Net neutrality has been the rule since the Internet was created for free communications.
With a Free Internet and Network Neutrality, the Internet allowed creative ideas to flourish and become successful, ideas like Wikipedia, Yahoo, Google, YouTube and eBay.
If you think about it, Network Neutrality is an extension of our rights under the First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech. The Internet is our voice, and we must all have the equal right to use “our voice.”
Internet Neutrality has allowed the Internet to become a truely competitive communication universe, with low barriers to entry, freedom of information, freedom of choice and equal opportunity.
Two-Tier Internet Will Destroy the Free Internet
A recent proposal will allow a Two-Tier Internet, the opposite of a Free Internet and Internet Neutrality. Big Telecom companies want to abandon Internet Neutrality and replace it with a Two Tier Internet, and a Two-Tier fee schedule. With a two-tier Internet, they would charge higher fees for faster Internet service. Websites and web publishers will have to pay these fees for faster delivery of their content. The pages you see could come to you on the fast lane or on the slow lane. This proposal will undermine the principal of a Free Internet and uncensored Internet Neutrality.
In reality, there will not be a fast Internet and a slow Internet. All the content will still travel the same Internet pipelines. Instead, the service provider would slow down data along the Internet because the sender didn’t pay the Two-Tier Toll. Technically, this slowdown could be accomplished by deliberately ”losing” data packets, or by rerouting data the “long way” home.
How slowly will the slow content travel the Internet? This is presumably up to the Big Telecoms. In a worst-case scenario, they could slow content down until everyone is obliged to cough up the fee for Top Tier speed. Some people might call this practice “extortion.” Remember, Top-Tier speed simply uses the full capability of the Internet.
Under a Two-Tier service, the benefits of any future improvements in Internet technology would belong to the Big Telecoms. Big Telecoms would deprive people of those benefits and charge extra for them.
Who Owns the Internet?
The giant telecom companies, Verizon, AT&T, Qwest, Level 3 and Sprint-Nextel, as well as Comcast and Time Warner, own the backbone of the Internet, and operate it under government contracts. Your connection from the home or office, called the last mile of the Internet, is owned by companies too numerous to mention.
Who Pays for the Free Internet Now?
The U.S. government pay the Big Telecoms for the cost of building and maintaining the Free Internet. End users like you, sitting in the office and at home, pay cable and phone companies for Internet access, dial-up, cable or DSL. All websites also pay their site host a monthly fee that is based on the volume of data sent out onto the Internet. These hosting companies in turn pay telecom companies for access to the Free Internet.
With free Internet and Internet neutrality as we now have it, the sender and the receiver are both paying for Internet access. The Big Telecoms are proposing a third payment from any website that wants faster, uncensored, unmolested, preferential delivery of its message.
Why Do Giant Telecoms Want a Two-Tier Internet?
The proposal for a Two-Tier Internet that undermines the Free Internet is all about money. Big Telecoms want to change the structure of the Internet from a Free Neutral Internet, because they want a bigger share of the pie. As traditional copper telephones are threatened by Internet telephony, as cable television and through-the-air television broadcasting lose audiences to Internet video, Big Telecoms are looking to expand revenues. It’s all about the money.
This two-tier proposal to subvert a Free and Neutral Internet is not prompted by a scarcity of resources. The Internet has plenty of capacity to carry traffic. The cost of equipment to carry the traffic is falling, too. And there are substantial improvements in speed and technology coming along. Researchers in Japan showed that it is now possible for data to travel at 7.67 gigabits per second on a high-speed network, using the existing communication protocol.
The Big Telecoms say that they will get no business advantage at all from the new technology, and they say they have no incentive to expand the infrastructure of the Internet. They are proposing an additional fee to be paid by any website that wants faster delivery of its content. This will create the second tier, with a slower pipeline, by sacrificing Internet freedom and neutrality.
"Besides health care and the defense budget, digital communications will be the biggest generator of wealth in the 21st Century. Digital communications is the new oil.” Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, Jeff Chester, 2007
If We Lose the Free Internet and Internet Neutrality
If we lose the Free Internet and Internet Neutrality, there are far-reaching consequences. The Two-Tier Proposal has negative consequences for the economy and the nation. The Big Telecoms will demand payment for letting your data travel unimpeded across the Internet. Large sites, like Google and Home Depot, for example, will cough up the new fees to remain competitive. It’s the small websites and innovative startups on a tight budget that will suffer most. The small entrepreneurs, the citizen journalists and the daily bloggers will also suffer. They will face an insurmountable barrier to business and communication. Those who can afford the fee will pay it. Those who cannot afford the fee will lose traffic and languish in limbo until they close down their website.
When we lost a free Internet and Internet Neutrality, browsing habits will change. You know yourself that you don’t wait for slow pages. Nobody wants to wait for slow pages to trickle down the Internet into their browser. They will move on to find a more responsive site. Visitors to a website won’t wait for delivery via the degraded service.
It’s possible that the spirit of entrepreneurship so characteristic of Internet startups will be thwarted by the extra cost of buying Internet communication delivery service.
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web said that protecting a Free Internet with Internet Neutrality should be one of the top priorities. “The Web took off in all its glory because it was a royalty-free infrastructure.”
Giving Up a Free Internet Has Consequences
There are significant opportunities for fraud in a two-tier Internet, when we do away with a Free and Neutral Internet. If we allow Telecoms to impose this Two-Tier fee, we will have to fight many more battles to preserve any semblance of the Free Internet as we know it today.
- If the Big Telecoms who run the Internet also have the authority to set fees and selectively impede traffic, many opportunities for fraud exist. In addition, collusion and restraint of trade become important anti-trust issues. The possibility of selective censorship also exists.
- Without a Free Internet, censorship is possible. The Big Telecoms who own the infrastructure also have their own Internet content, which is in competition with other sites. They will offer preferential tier status for their own content and for certain clients and partners. They will play favorites.
- Without a Free Internet, there will be further erosions. When the Two-Tier fee sets the precedent for restricted Internet traffic, how long would it be before we see three tiers, four tiers or forty-seven tiers? We can expect a virtual Pandora’s box of fees, strangling Internet content.
- On a two-tier Internet, the next fee-based promotion from the Big Telecoms might be web delivery targeted by consumer demographics.
- Without a Free Internet, restraint of trade is likely. Will the use of Two-Tier fees open the door to corporate activities in restraint of free trade? What if Coke, by hook or by crook, convinces the Telecoms to deny its competitor Pepsi access to the top tier? Or vice versa?
- Will Telecoms deny Top Tier service to websites when they disagree with the message? On a Two-Tier Telecom controlled Internet, will free speech be censored?
- Without a Free Internet, how long would it be until Big Telecoms restrict Internet content by destination? The level of service would be determined by the ability of the city to absorb more Telecom fees. There would be speedy service to Beverly Hills and Palm Springs, lackluster service to Pittsburgh and Iowa City, and sporadic service to inner cities and low-income areas. Maybe Telecoms will impose a new fee for East Coast data and another fee for West Coast data, or a mileage fee.
How does the U.S. Rank in Internet Access?
Americans do not have good access to the Internet. About 40% of U.S. households have broadband access. Among the 30 industrialized countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD, the US. ranks in 15th place
in broadband access per capita. And the U.S. is quickly falling behind other nations. It’s a national embarrassment.
On a per capita basis, U.S. broadband access falls below Denmark, Holland, Iceland, Korea, Switzerland, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Belgium, England, Luxemburg, France and Japan.
This means that the majority of Americans, 60%, do not have broadband Internet access. Cost and lack of available service are the factors in this. Internet Service Providers choose not to offer broadband service in rural and poor areas, because of the smaller customer base. The lack of a comprehensive Internet policy is also holding the U.S. back, too.
What Can I Do to Support a Free Internet and Internet Neutrality?
If you believe that the cost, quality and range of Internet content should not be determined by corporate telecom self-interest, if you believe that Internet neutrality should be protected as an American right, please consider signing the Net Neutrality petition at http://www.savetheinternet.com
Over a million people have already done so. It’s not too late to protect your right to the Free Internet.
I wish you much success in life. I hope you have a very happy day.