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One illustrated view of world without net neutrality rules

So what would the world look like if proposed net neutrality rules fail to clear the Federal Communications Commission? Opponents of the rules favor a continuation of the status quo, under which only a few examples of bad behavior by Internet service providers have emerged. But DVICE, a tech blog, posted a graphic on what they say could happen if cable and telecom companies became the gatekeepers of content and services on the Web.

Their Web site shows a world in which users pay a basic price for their Internet connections, and then are offered a dizzying array of options to buy other content that today is free.

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words. What do you think?

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 28, 2009; 3:30 PM ET
Categories:  Net Neutrality  
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$30 for an internet connection? I think that is optimistic. I pay that for my DSL, but I also pay another $18 for a mandatory local line and various government fees and taxes.

I'm not an online gamer, but isn't $5 a month for WoW pretty cheap?

Sadly, people probably would pay extra for the right to shop at Amazon. I like how the search engines are extra too.

Posted by: caribis | October 28, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

The illustration above is complete nonsense and was designed by lobbyists to scare the public into favoring unnecessary regulation of ISPs.

The fact is that no ISP wants to sell access to individual sites, or has ever proposed doing so. Why? because we don't buy access that way -- and because that's not the way the Internet is designed. What's more, the transaction costs of doing so would far exceed any profit from doing so -- and because there's vibrant competition among ISPs, any ISP which embraced such a model would soon find its customers switching to the competition.

This is why ISPs have strongly resisted attempts by sites such as ESPN360, to impose such a business model on them.

In short, there's no danger that ISPs would try this. However, Internet monopolies, such as Google, could do so. Imagine what would happen if Google required ISPs to pay up before their customers could access Google's search engine... or YouTube. Google, having a monopoly, would -- unlike ISPs -- have real monopoly leverage.

The real gatekeepers are not ISPs, because they have plenty of competition... and that competition is increasing daily. They're companies with monopolies and market power -- such as Google.

This is why Google's Eric Schmidt is publicly lobbying to regulate ISPs but not Google (see the Washington Post's own story on this at And in fact, due to Google's multi-million dollar lobbying, the FCC has written content providers such as Google out of its proposed "network neutrality" rules. The proposed rules would hamstring ISPs -- reducing quality of service, raising prices, and stifling competition and innovation -- but would leave "enfants terribles" such as Google free to harm consumers (as it already does by tracking them with "spyware" cookies).

Of course, the Washington Post -- including this very biased blog -- favors Google's agenda. Why? Could it be because all of the ads on this page are served up by Google, making this monpolist the single largest source of advertising revenue for this Web site?

Posted by: squirma | October 28, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

That might work in an Internet with 100s of sites, but one with millions? I think not. Nice scare tactic, but it's not that easy...the Internet is NOT cable or satellite TV.

Posted by: SamFelis | October 29, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

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