A controversial issue in today’s life within the United States is Net Neutrality. As of now, Internet Service Providers are classified as an Information Service, and therefore not bound by Common Carrier Laws. Common Carrier is when a service provider is not allowed to discriminate on the resources used through their lines. In example, an electricity provider is not allowed to prevent solar energy from being served on their lines (if this was possible). A more realistic example is that a telephone service provider is not allowed to prevent a call within the +1 country code to be prevented.
Under current laws, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is allowed to block or throttle your connection to services that you paid for with or without a rationale of why. In the United States, most people have one or if they are really lucky – 2 broadband providers that is not a cellular connection. This is typically a competition of Cable TV providers such as Comcast, or Time Warner Cable, and Fiber Optic which is usually set up by telephone service providers, and Google. Now, if you want to watch a video on Netflix, and the ISP wants to throttle or block your connection to Netflix, they are allowed to do this without reason. Your option is to go to another provider, but if they are the only broadband service, you have been basically held hostage.
Now, ISPs have demanded negotiations with companies that deal in high amounts of data such as video streaming services for that company to pay the ISP more money in addition to what you pay so that you could use a service that you pay the company to allow you to use. In my opinion, this is unethical, and immoral – but obviously not illegal.
First, I am not advocating that everyone has the same connection service. However, I am suggesting that the government should require the ISPs to provide the customers with what they pay for. With this in mind, I will propose that there should be a 90/75 rule. This rule will require that ISPs provide a connection of 90% of what they claim to offer 75% of the time. In addition, under no circumstance is the ISP allowed to drop a person’s connection to below 25% or they should refund on a daily basis for such losses. If for example, a person is paying for a 75MBPS connection (don’t laugh S. Korea), then that would mean the ISP is required to provide 67.5MBPS minimum consistently for 540 hours out of a month. This also means that the connection should never go below 6.75MBPS or the customer will receive a refund. So, if the customer pays $75/month, and their connection drops below that 25% mark, then the ISP is required to refund $2.50 for each day of such reduced service. This rule will allow the ISPs to not be penalized if there is a legitimate network issue, while assuring the customer gets what they pay for. In addition, all service connections of 15MBPS or greater will be required to have less than 100ms latency. This is a little technical, but if you play online games, or use VOIP/SIP services – then you want this.
Now, with that in mind – if the ISP wishes to negotiate with companies to provide a “fast lane” of service – fine. Negotiate until the cows come home, as long as the ISP follows the 90/75 rule. This means that in worst case scenario. In example, if one is a customer of Google Fiber, Google is by all means in the right to assure a 10MBPS connection with You Tube on the free Internet plan which is limited to just 5MBPS. They can also negotiate with Netflix to offer a “fast lane” for their customers again as long as the 90/75 rule is kept in place.
Now cellular service is another issue. Our cellular network is very fragmented, and it seems as if every carrier has their own spectrum which is for their customers only. Because of this mess, and the fact there is no real build out by the carriers (they care only when they loose customers), there has to be different considerations.
In this regard, VoLTE (Voice over LTE) should always be considered as voice. The technicalities of Voice calls taking a certain amount of MB per minute will be too much for the average consumer to want to deal with especially since the carrier spoiled the customers with “unlimited voice/SMS”. So, what should happen with data? Well, again – there should be the 90/75 rule. The carrier will be allowed to impose data caps as long as the carrier offers an easy way to identify how the data was used. The carrier must also provide an option of either paying extra for overages, or being throttled. In the event of throttling, the carrier can not reduce to below 25% of what the customer pays for. And likewise, the carrier is allowed to work with companies to provide a “freezone” where certain services and features are not charged for as long as the carrier provides a list of what services qualifies.
Here is the thing, I hear ISPs and cable companies complaining about how it costs money to roll out services. In the meantime, they received government money to roll out their infrastructure in the first place. In the meantime, the prices of internet services have gone up while quality has gone down. For this, I have two words – Imminent Domain!
The government in my opinion should take over the Internet lines, and cellular service towers. In turn, the government should established a national LTE network, and build out a national fiber optic network. In very rural or remote areas – wideband services can be provided. Now, I am not saying that the government should be your ISP, or phone provider. Instead, the companies wishing to serve in this realm will pay a license fee to the government. In turn, the government maintains the infrastructure. By doing this, the ISPs don’t have to worry about maintaining their which is what we are paying them to do which they don’t. It will also put every ISP and cellular carrier on an equal footing. This now means the companies must compete where it should matter the most such as customer service, and features. It is easy to claim to be number one when you have no competition.
However, with this being said – I am obviously now a socialist who hates democracy. However, when do we say that the government should get out of the water provision services, and why are we not yelling and screaming because they regulate the companies that provide electricity and gas services? And keep in mind that every single public road, railway and airport had major involvement if not exclusive involvement with the government.
If this extreme was taken, then the companies that provide service will be on equal footing. And with this equal footing, an innovative company can offer services without having to have billions of dollars and fight the monopoly which by the way is a by product of monarchies which is what the United States declared freedom from. And if the government owned, and rolled out a complete fiber optic network, then the television services such as ABC, CBS, and NBC (a few examples) can direct their services through these fiber optic networks which will free the airwaves. This means that we could have a more reliable wireless infrastructure. In addition, the POTS phone systems which are still in use by millions of people can be replaced with a truly VOIP solution in which new numbers and services can be distributed with just writing lines of code.
So, I now solved the Net Neutrality problem (as well as a couple other problems). You’re welcome America!