Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What is Net Neutrality?
Imagine that you are Netflix boss Reed Hastings. You're busy trying to eat the cable companies' collective lunch by offering on-demand Internet streaming video; sure, you're not there yet, but it's clear this model has a bright future… except for one little worry.

The cable companies and telcos you rely on to deliver your bits also compete with you, offering profitable video services of their own that don't come through "the Internet" but are increasingly based on IP and use the exact same pipe. Should those companies be allowed to offer managed quality of service enhanced video streams over a segregated section of the last-mile Internet pipe to directly compete with your own best-effort Internet offering?...

"The fact that network operators control the delivery pipes and generate significant revenue from content that travels over those pipes provides both the means and motive for discriminating against new ventures that might threaten revenue sources of the network operators," Netflix warned. These developments "exacerbate the growing concern that [video providers] will use their control over programming networks to stifle competition, including the growing competition from online video providers like Netflix."

Therefore, according to Netflix, the FCC should apply its open Internet principles to "managed services," too, possibly by requiring that such services could never consume more than a set fraction of the Internet pipe, reserving the rest for the "open Internet."

So, basically, Netflix says that the mere possibility that their competitors might throttle throttle other people's service is unfair. So, their remedy is to: throttle other people's service. This is a classic example of overt regulatory corruption, one group lobbying government to restrict their competitor's ability to compete. The fact that the most efficient technological solution might not involve Netflix is sufficient to use government to intervene on their behalf.
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