Arguments against Net Neutrality

Apr 15th, 2014

We have discussed net neutrality at some length here on this blog. And while it may seem that the fairness net neutrality provides to users, companies, and website owners, there are still some that argue against the idea of net neutrality. Not surprisingly, most of the opponents are telecom and cable companies, which would be given the upper hand should net neutrality ever cease to exist. The reasons they give for being against net neutrality include the need for prioritization of bandwidth, the well-being of online users, and the fact that net neutrality doesn’t really exist within the current Internet infrastructure.

The first argument against net neutrality, telecom and cable companies state, is that there is a need for prioritization of bandwidth – and that net neutrality disallows that prioritization. They state that companies that have the ability to pay for faster bandwidth should be able to do so, and that by instating a tiered service, they would be able to do so. The extra revenue that telecom and cable companies would receive for doing so could t hen be used to increase broadband access for all customers. These same companies state that without that additional revenue, they wouldn’t be able to invest in advanced fiber-optic networks and provide on-going advancements in technology. However, the argument against that is that telecom and cable companies will still be making revenue for providing their services, and that this revenue can be used for any future investments needed.

Proponents of net neutrality claim that they are doing so in the best interests of the general public and all Internet users, and opponents of the idea claim the same thing. The difference is that while proponents can point towards certain rights and freedoms – such as freedom of speech and freedom to information – opponents of net neutrality are unable to do so. Opponents aren’t able to pinpoint why net neutrality would be detrimental to Internet users and instead, only point to the idea of a neutral public option to still encourage competition in place of forcing Internet service providers to remain neutral. While there is no proof that such an option would make it better for Internet users, there still remains quite a bit of doubt.

Lastly, opponents of net neutrality claim that this is a concept that doesn’t even really exist today and so, they don’t understand why legislators are so keen on introducing the idea. They claim that Internet users as well as companies and website owners still have to pay for access to a certain amount of bandwidth, and storage capacity for their websites. While this is true, it doesn’t exactly speak against net neutrality. Should net neutrality cease to exist, not only would users have to pay for the bandwidth that they’re currently using, they’d also have to pay just to be granted access to certain websites, and if they weren’t deemed privileged enough, or if they didn’t pay enough money, they may not be able to download or view certain websites at all.

With all that telecom and cable companies stand to lose with net neutrality, it’s not surprising that they are the biggest opponents of net neutrality. However, in order for everyone to win – including the general public – net neutrality is something that has to be here to stay!
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