Monday, January 22, 2007

Net Neutrality in Canada - Who Cares?

The Tyee just posted an article entitled "Canada Sleeps Through War to 'Save the Internet."

The Tyee defines the issue of Net Neutrality as "Whether telecom companies can favor some Internet sites over others by charging different rates to different customers and making some sites much easier to access than others."

While the issue has made its way to the top of hot button issues in the US, even being hilariously profiled on the Jon Stewart show by the "PC Guy" (see below)

Anyone that expresses shock or outrage that the telco's dare to propose making more
money off the services they provide should give their head a shake. It's this mis-perception that the internet is free or a public utility that gives rise to the argument against Net Neutrality. The internet is NOT free. It's access is owned by an elite group of multi-billion companies whose business it is to make as much possible money of their assets and services. Whether in an Internet cafe in Kitgum, Uganda or at home in South Granville, I have always paid a provider for my internet (except when I find open wireless networks, but then still, someone is paying for that network access).

That these companies have gained these assets in part because of years of government granted monopoly is not sufficient argument against keeping them from charging for tiered access.

The companies that provide this access to both servers and browsers of content have made multi-billion investments in being able to efficiently deliver an exponentially increasingly amount of high-bandwidth content to the masses, expecting the highest return on their investment possible that that their customers are willing to pay for.

Is it a sad day that this new medium has matured into a platform that is now drawing big numbers of people away from their television sets, magazines and newspapers and as such is starting to act more like traditional media industries or is the portioning of the internet really nothing more than the logical evolution of a medium that has finally begun to truly mature? It's probably both.

The argument that valuable progressive media broadcasting will not be able to afford a two-tiered model, I reject. Supporters of those organizations will donate in membership drives (GiveMeaning has already funded some of those drives).

Yes, the fact that this might mean higher start-up costs for new organizations and that it would impose a "success fee" as organizations serve-up more content but the great majority of these content providers will find a way to cover those costs.

For the organizations that can't support themselves independently, they will form media co-ops that will pool resources, and a crop of new intermediaries will emerge to offer pooled resources for similarly oriented content providers.

So amongst all of the issues that need our Country's attention, I don't think Net Neutrality should factor to the top 5.

But you see that I have posted a blog badge to because I do believe that all of us but especially those of us in the IT business need to be more aware of the policies and issues governing our infrastructure providers and as consumers of internet services, we need better insight into what the major providers are doing especially in regards to free speech and fair competition.

That's why I post the blog badge and why I dugg the Tyee article. We need to be aware of the changing landscape as the medium we rely on matures as an industry. We need both extremes of the debate advocated passionately and keep informed about the policies that shape the industry.

Lastly, I'm waiting to see what IT company figures it out first and makes this issue a core aspect of their corporate social responsibility platform.

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