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Unanswered questions in net neutrality debate

In the war of words over net neutrality, there are some questions from both sides of the debate that have been left unanswered.

Opponents of new rules say there simply aren't enough examples of harm to warrant more regulation. Are a few bad apples enough to justify new rules? And doesn't the booming growth of the Web show that things may be just fine as is?

Proponents of the new rules say those bad apples show the next big thing being cooked up in a garage somewhere may never see the light of day if blocked by an Internet service provider. And what are specific examples of services that would be harmed under the rules proposed by FCC Chairmam Julius Genachowski?

What do you think? Let's hear it.

I'll feature some comments later in the day.

By Cecilia Kang  |  October 20, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

The Republicans are asking the FCC to hold off on the vote for Net Neutrality. I think many people are worried that this is just another example of the government's need to control media. Who knows what amendment they would "slip" into the bill minutes before the vote.

Here is a great article regarding the Pros and Cons of Net Neutrality by
Wired Magazine
www.wired.com/epicenter/2009/09/fcc-neutrality-mistake/

"The new regulations create an additional layer of government bureaucracy where the free market has already proven its effectiveness. The reason you’re not using AOL to read this right now isn’t because the government mandated AOL’s closed network out of existence: It’s because free and open networks triumphed, and that’s because they were good business.

Now the FCC is proposing taking a free market that works, and adding another layer of innovation-stifling regulations on top of that? This may please the net neutrality advocates who helped elect the current administration, but it doesn’t add up."

The government just needs to back off......

Posted by: reviewthendo | October 21, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

The argument for net neutrality makes an assumption that innovation only occurs at the edge of the network and that innovations at the center of the network aren't as important. But the history of the Internet's growth shows this isn't true. The biggest changes we saw came from ISPs actually. First we have the roll out of dial-up Internet which took the Internet from something used by tech elites and universities to a popular technology. Second we have the roll out of high-speed connections with DSL and then Cable and now Fiber. These speeds have radically changed the Internet. Third we had the introduction in mobile that put the Internet in people's pockets. This growth in adoption has allowed boutique applications to grow and not just lowest-common-denominator applications.

Posted by: christianm1973 | October 21, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

One thing is certain: we need to expand the availability of broadband to everyone in America. On behalf of Broadband for America, I urge you to visit the Broadband for America website: http://ow.ly/uRmr It is a great resource for all things broadband!

Posted by: cprachar | October 21, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

The net neutrality regs are rules, not a bill - they go through a rule making process, not a vote on a bill that gets amendments.

Net neutrality is returning the net to the situation that held sway up until about 2005, when the Bush FCC changed the FCC position on net neutrality. All of the innovations you've seen over the years occurred with a neutral Internet.

The free market that worked was in fact net neutral. A return to net neutrality is the best way to preserve the choice and freedom we've grown used to - which is VITALLY important as more and more news and information sources become exclusively online.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 21, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Gee, VirginiaGal2, you seem to have a lot to say about this topic, even though you claim not to be in the broadband industry. For which Google-financed lobbying group do you work?

In any event, your claim that "network neutrality" regulation would return the Internet to any previous state is false and disingenuous. Never before has the Internet been in a situation where network builders would have to ask the FCC's permission to innovate or have their hands tied by regulation, while gatekeepers like Google went unregulated. "Network neutrality" regulation would give a big advantage to your employer, Google, by regulating ISPs' networks but not the networks owned by Google itself (which has a worldwide fiber network that's larger than those of most ISPs). And consumers would suffer greatly from such corporate favoritism.

Posted by: squirma | October 22, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

squirma, you have a vivid imagination.

I do not work for Google. I do not work for a lobbyist. I am not a lobbyist. I am a techie, I work in a tech job, and have been for over 20 years.

As I've pointed out before, I've been reading WaPo for about 30 years, and blogging on WaPo for about 18 months - about tech topics, health care, pets, civil liberties, cancer, and politics.

Which online blogging would be something you would know how to check if WaPo was actually local to you or if you took some time to verify your claims.

Now, there are two theories that could explain this. One is that I'm really a middle aged cancer survivor and geek girl who follows politics.

The other is that some Internet lobbying group has been paying me for 18 months to talk ad nauseum about pets, cancer, health care, politics, civil liberties, et al - because they are psychic and know that some day you'd show up here and you'd annoy me enough to respond to you.

Doesn't make much sense put in that context, does it? But it does show how ridiculous your claim is.

Net neutrality does in fact return the Internet to its previous state.

ISPs do not need the FCC's permission to innovate with net neutrality - they simply are forbidden to block legal content or applications. That doesn't involve innovation.

Private networks are not ISPs. When you are an ISP, you become a public gateway to the Internet and you are subject to net neutrality. That isn't favoritism, any more than only requiring drivers licenses for drivers is.

Posted by: VirginiaGal2 | October 22, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

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