Net neutrality is still a US hang-up
A new ‘study’ claims that the communciations companies in the US will lose 340,000 jobs in the next decade if the federal Communications Commission (FCC) carries on with its current policy of net neutrality.And, the study reckons,...
And, the study reckons, that could rise to 1.5 million by 2020, the point at which US consumers are supposed to have universal access to fast broadband.
I have not read the whole paper, but this assertion is at worst unsubstantiated propaganda.
Apart from the clever rebranding of telecom companies and ISPs as ‘broadband companies’ the key element of this study was that it was funded by the industry itself and is therefore probably about as useful as a marketing white paper in understanding the complex underlying issues that make up the neutrality debate.
I covered net neutrality two weeks ago so won’t rehash the arguments against what the communications giants would like the world to believe, or the fact that this can sometimes seem to be a parochial US argument that belies the inevitable waning of that country’s influence on the Internet going forward.
Suffice to say that the jobs argument comes from a communications industry that has never shirked the need to kill jobs and long before the words net neutrality entered the technological canon. There are plenty of people who think that these jobs will go anyway as natural consolidation hits.
In the UK the arguments have mostly been about how far ISPs should be allowed to go in throttling the BBC’s hugely popular iPlayer application. ISPs have, in fact, always throttled users, that is scale back the bandwidth available to certain classes of users, such as gamers, BitTorrent users, and now, the iPlayer generation.
Is this really about net neutrality? Only at a tangent. There is a world of difference between managing the traffic of a few users and turning up at Broadcasting House demanding a payment for allowing that traffic reasonable bandwidth at all.
And as for unthrottled connections - so called ‘Pro’ connections - users already pay a premium for those in addition to which they will often face some kind of bandwidth cap. Nobody seems to worry about this because the payment and the choice is clearly on the individual user.
Often, the net neutrality debate in the US seems to be more about making an attack on the business model of companies which are in complex ways now in competition with the access providers and telecoms companies.
OFCOM, we await your thoughts but let’s not create a problem where none exists. The US net neutrality debate is just that. A debate about net neutrality in the US.