Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Net neutrality controversy based on chimera of limited bandwidth

Netflix Reaches Interconnection Deal With Verizon - Netflix had been at odds with broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast for months in a debate over who would pay for the huge volumes of traffic Netflix sends over their networks. Netflix has offered to pay for the cost of deploying equipment that will help deliver its videos more efficiently, but the biggest broadband companies have resisted, citing the heavy load Netflix traffic puts on the "last mile" of network infrastructure to their customers' homes.

This claim is utter hogwash and goes to the heart of the net neutrality controversy, which is based on this chimera. Internet providers have created the myth that the Internet is like the electrical grid and its capacity strained on warm days when people crank up their air conditioners. Too many Netflix-powered "air conditioners" are running and taxing our distribution system, ISPs maintain. Therefore we need demand-based pricing to finance upgrades to our last mile infrastructure to handle the additional demand being generated by Netflix and other core network providers that generate substantial bandwidth demand. And it's only fair as a big bandwidth user, Netflix pay a surcharge.

Baloney. Bandwidth is not megawatts or kilowatts and the Internet is not a consumption-based utility like electricity or natural gas. It's no skin off the noses of the ISPs to deliver big bandwidth. If it doesn't transport well over an outmoded and inadequate last mile landline plant to homes and small businesses, consumers and not ISPs pay the price in terms of a poor online experience. And those customers in most cases have no better alternative if they don't like that experience and their ISP chooses to pocket any extra revenues paid by core providers like Netflix to finance fat shareholder dividends instead of last mile infrastructure.

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