June 26, 2006

Spinning Net Neutrality [4:32 am]

Let’s see if you can guess whose side this opinion columnist from the WaPo is on: No Neutral Ground in This Internet Battle

Net neutrality.

Sounds benign, but no two words have stirred more passion this year. The mere mention of the issue is enough to make a wonk explode.

Yet the public advocacy on this important topic has concealed far more than it has illuminated. Commercials on either side of the issue are confusing, opaque or downright deceptive.

More about this obfuscation later. But first, a definition.

Net neutrality, which is shorthand for network neutrality, is one of two possible answers to the following legislative question: Should cable and telephone companies be allowed to charge add-on fees to others for access to their networks?

Hold your nose and check your shoes before wading too deeply into this argument:

Put another way, if net neutrality passes, the AT&Ts of the world will be forced to pay for all of their equipment upgrades themselves and could not subsidize that effort by imposing premium fees for premium services. If net neutrality fails, they will be able to recoup more of those costs than they can now from the likes of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other major users of the World Wide Web.

Hmmm - so AT&T is paying for network development now, gratis? I wonder what all those bills people get in the mail are for, then.

Ultimately, this article purports to point out that neither side has made a good case to the public, but it’s also got a decided slant.

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