demand will eliminate net neutrality debate over time

I got pointed (via elamb) to an article discussing net neutrality: five facts everyone should know, hosted by the folks at (10gigE Alliance). Net neutrality on Wikipedia.

The concept of net neutrality is an interesting one, especially when you look at the economics of it. It makes sense to limit traffic if you’re a carrier with limited bandwidth/resources (or will someday be limited). But it makes sense to have unlimited traffic if you’re a consumer. Business wants to cut costs; consumers want their freedom of choice.

To emphasize points in the article:

2. Net packaging. Yeah, I think we should really never talk about net packaging ever again. AOL tried this approach with their wall-garden business model. It doesn’t work or suffice for too many users. Likewise, for every site that wants to charge even small prices for content, there are 3 other sites with nearly the same content for free. Or if it is new and has no peers, it will in a year or two when the business model proves unprofitable or too many alternatives appear. Cable companies still tout packages of channels, but this is slowly going away (as slowly as they can make it).

3. Networks are “protecting” consumers. Fine, this is a great marketing point, but the article is correct: any protection is simply a coincidental by-product. And even then, it can’t be all that secure for everyone. Any protections an ISP will provide will be like swatting flies with a sledgehammer. Even non-ISP services like DNS providers or site advisors or email server blacklists are clumsy and end up swatting legit sites in their wide swings.

4. Speed Throttling. I don’t feel this has as much to do with net neurality because it is more a function of speed as opposed to open access or blocked traffic. It’s also something I won’t get into much. I’ll pay what I have to for satisfactory service and move on. Then again, I am weird and couldn’t tell you the price of gas on any given day or week (I don’t check prices, I just fill when I need to, pay it, move on; it’s not important enough to care about until it impacts me such that my habits have to change and I drive less…). As long as I can pay the bills and do what I do on the net, I don’t much care.

Thankfully, despite all the passionate talk about net neutrality, this is a geek’s realm: internet access. There will always be alternative providers that understand geeks and offer good bandwidth without restrictions or delusions of making money off weird implementations (like Mediacom, my cable provider, which hijacks every bad DNS lookup I make in a browser). This is still an economic consumer system that is ultimately going to be ruled by demand, not supply. Sure, there are plenty of consumers who will just do whatever, but they’ll just end up in the next AOL walled-garden of disappointment.