There is a urging in Washington D.C. to place the Internet under Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jurisdiction so that the federal government will be permitted to regulate the speeds, bandwidth and allocation of resources. Part of the ground items to be placed under regulation has virtually nothing to do with the average private person using the Internet except that their rates would rise very likely exponentially, not merely linearly. The crux of the argument is who should have to pay for their use of bandwidth, especially when it comes to commercial rates. The fight is between the bandwidth providers, your Internet provider company, or the user, such as Netflix, Amazon, EBay and other retailers whose need for additional bandwidth in order to provide their services to the public. Needless to point out, the Internet providers are demanding that retailers and web services pay for their greater need for bandwidth while the retailers and web services feel that the Internet providers should have to provide access not by bandwidth but at one price as if all users are created equal regardless of bandwidth demands. Should the Internet come under federal regulation then we can all expect whichever side can influence the most numbers of Congress-critters to rule the day. The real problem is that each side just might have sufficient influence that some grand bargain will be found, and grand bargains seldom work out to the advantage of those who have minimal lobbying influence, the average private citizen who uses the Internet for any purpose.
The idea of free website services such as the one this blog is carried on would be a thing of the past really fast. Free e-mail, forget about it! Other free services currently offered will all by necessity carry a price-tag sufficiently high that the providers would no longer offer such goodies. Everything would have to come with a price because the Internet providers would be forced to become very stingy with their bandwidth usage as those large bandwidth users whose use of bandwidth so outweighs any average private user would also be capable of lobbying Congress and thus they would at the very least force that every customer pay for bandwidth in preset allocations where there would be a significant entry level and additional bandwidth use would be charged according to the use of additional set blocks which the Internet providers would charge according to regulations setting the sizes. Perhaps an example might help.
Bandwidth is measured by bits per second of usage. When an individual is using the Internet their bandwidth varies by activity. To read articles their bandwidth usage is virtually zero, to read your e-mail is also negligible, to download pictures it is a little higher and potentially speed will be sacrificed if one is to use a lower bandwidth, to watch a YouTube video it is considerably larger and to watch a hi-definition movie the bandwidth usage would be at the highest end of the scale as it is passing data in real time and the service is not going to burden their customers demanding they allow for buffering interrupting the movie at different stages when the bandwidth is exceeded by the requirement to transfer the necessary data. Now imagine the bandwidth requirement for a music provider where they download music to their customers in the millions twenty-four hours a day. Their bandwidth requirement dwarfs that of the average user and even the bandwidth required by any single user of their service. Add in video for the music or a movie averaging two to three hours straight of hi-definition video and surround sound which is likely the highest bandwidth and individual user could demand. The providers of each of these services from the news article or encyclopedia site downloading mostly text and the occasional JPEG to thousands or even millions of users simultaneously would exceed that of any individual user of their service which is obvious. The same ratio or even a higher ratio is required by the providers of each of the other services, downloading music, add in video with the music and make all of that hi-definition with surround sound for hours at a time to millions on a busy Saturday night during a blizzard and you can barely imagine the required bandwidth for the on-line movies provider. If these high end demand for bandwidth providers get their way they will place a fairly significant share of their bandwidth payment down to the users and away from themselves. The easiest way for them to achieve this is to set a high basic bandwidth amount as the minimal bandwidth package that can be offered. They might even go so far as to set the price of this basic bandwidth package around three times what it might cost currently despite the fact that very few, actually probably none, of private users ever even approached that level of usage even at their highest usage times. They would then have additional packets of bandwidth which many of the high demand services require but those would be at a minimal profit for the service providers as an exchange for the additional cash inflow provided by the upgrade of the basic package to a point beyond the average person’s imagination, let alone use.
They might make the basic bandwidth package be equal to approximately one-half-of-one percent of the price for running a T-3 connection, a connection which currently provides the average private household’s internet demand as high as one-third of a million users. So by making the basic package priced higher and providing data rates well beyond private demands they will be laying off a fair share of their usage off on private users by which they can make their purchase of their required excess usage rates of bandwidth more affordable for them and thus they will be able to provide their services at a lesser rate. In exchange the service providers will now be required to sell a far higher service level than anybody could ever use to their base users. The end result will be the introduction of lower rate service providers in local areas who will purchase a set of base lines and use that bandwidth to sell to people locally which will require their laying cable or using phone connections by also purchasing a bank of phone lines as under a business usage service. This will mean a step backwards for people who use these services until they find the best balance of internet access and ability to provide access leaving the higher priced providers who are under federal regulations as the other choice. But there is another side that could change the entire package and service. Just in case nobody has noticed, the internet is an international network and thus the providers could simply move their servers outside the United States and run distributive services through a branch office within the United States which is tied to their actual servers outside of the United States thus beyond federal regulations. Granted, such would require an initial investment to relocate their servers but after that they would be free from the heavy hand of the federal government. The guarantee in the case of the implementation of net neutrality is a double sided sword. The first blade will make internet access multiples of the current rates followed, as rapidly as the providers are capable of making the transference, the moving of all internet servers and hubs to nations who provide a more business friendly attitude and the setting up of a network connection system so as to provide their services within the United States from locations over the borders or the setting up of new secondary companies which are subsets of the current providers who will offer more friendly priced Internet access and accounts with a slightly longer delay or lag in connections which will be imperceptible except possibly in some of the most intense and graphically heavy, such as a game using hi-definition rendering or other high-speed graphic requirements. In the end all that federal regulation of the Internet will accomplish is a renaming of the current private user accounts and a minimal increased lag playing World of Warcraft and other such games. This will be similar to when the federal government set price controls on many foods back in the early 1970s where they set the price of apples and within a few weeks you could not buy an apple, you had to buy a Red Delicious, a Golden Delicious, a Red Granny Smith, a Yellow Granny Smith but you could no longer buy just a plain old apple as no such produce existed any longer, the same happened to virtually every item which was placed under price controls and is why there are so many choices in produce in the supermarket today. It even affected beef as now you had ground chuck, ground round, ground sirloin and lean ground beef. Isn’t the federal government just so wonderful as their attempts to place their heavy hand on our food resulted in our having such a wide variety of foods which were not included in the federal government price controls, just wonderful. No wonder shopping has become so confusing for the average man and just one more reason that women rule, they can actually tell the difference between a Golden Delicious and a Yellow Granny Smith.
Beyond the Cusp