10 Arguments For and Against Net Neutrality, Part 2

Mar 22, 2018

by Agam Shah Associate Editor at Mechanical Engineering magazine

The reasons for repealing net neutrality were highlighted in Part 1 of “10 Arguments For and Against Net Neutrality.” Here are some of the mean arguments against a repeal.

AGAINST

1) Internet not a level playing field: Repealing net neutrality will make broadband providers the "gatekeepers" of the internet, PwC said. Customers will be at the mercy of broadband providers, which will define what websites and services are accessible. The idea of net neutrality was to give more freedom to Internet users without service provider interference. While the repeal could help develop new IoT services and prioritize internet traffic critical to industry infrastructure, broadband providers will also retain the power to block that.

 

Revenue for core and edge providers, 2012-2022. Shaded region shows years affected by net neutrality laws. Image: IBISWorld

 

2) Higher bills and "tolls": With the repeal, broadband providers could charge service providers or consumers higher prices for faster Internet lanes. That's what happened to Netflix, which was choking the Internet, and later struck a deal with Verizon and Comcast for the privilege of streaming content to users of their networks. Similarly, broadband providers could charge premiums for faster lanes delivered to autonomous car providers or health providers using smart medical devices for emergencies. Net neutrality treats all traffic equally as a way to prevent overcharging, but could inhibit the development of high-priority services, which require network slicing and software techniques to distinguish critical internet traffic.

Someone ultimately has to pay for advanced services and infrastructure, and the burden will be passed on to the customers even if the repeal doesn’t go into effect, Ford said, making comparisons to the airline industry, which passes down a lot of baggage and other costs to the consumer.

 

Enterprise growth for core and edge providers, 2012-2022. Shaded region shows years affected by net neutrality laws. Image: IBISWorld

 

3) Squeeze out startups: Large companies will be able to afford premiums for next-generation internet services and higher priority lanes, but startups with no buying power will be squeezed out. That’s relevant in the engineering space, with a lot of innovation happening around IoT and robotics. Innovators are concerned that broadband provider will become "arbiters of acceptable online business models," wrote FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn in a dissent on the repeal of net neutrality rules.

"Maybe several providers will quietly roll out paid prioritization packages that enable deep-pocketed players to cut the queue. Maybe a vertically-integrated broadband provider decides that it will favor its own apps and services. Or some high-value internet-of-things traffic will be subject to an additional fee," Mignon wrote.

4) Smart city projects: A number of U.S. cities including New York, San Francisco and Portland are against the repeal, saying moving control of the internet to broadband providers would affect smart city projects. Broadband providers that are gatekeeping the internet will make it costlier and more difficult for city governments to deploy IoT technologies related to services like safety and smart street light, said officials of 62 U.S. cities in a filing with FCC. Local governments worldwide will spend almost $41 trillion on IoT technologies over the next 20 years, according to the filing.

5) Political instability: Net neutrality rules could be back if Democrats take power in 2020. Such a political football will continue as long as net neutrality remains a hot button issue. The political instability affects the business climate and plans of engineering companies to develop services, products and upgrade infrastructure. Many companies like Ericsson and AT&T are recommending building an open internet outside of the net neutrality rules, so they can deploy and upgrade telecom infrastructure around emerging technologies like 5G, which will benefit everyone.

Missed Part 1? Read it here.

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