One reason the internet is powerful is because people have equal access to all sites. To all content. And that start-ups have just as much chance to grow a viable business as anyone else. They can compete against the big boys because of a level playing field. Slowing their traffic compared to those who can pay for fast traffic isn't exactly censorship ... but it's along those lines. People want their sites fast, and destroying net neutrality means pushing them toward sites with deep pockets.
And what do we think has happened with media, where people have been pushed more and more into the stories told by about 6 worldwide media companies? Outside of the internet, it's hard to find many perspectives outside this very narrow "mainstream." Would the same thing happen with media companies buying up the fast access and therefore most of the world's actual "people" traffic?
But here's another interesting perspective on it. Recently the Net Neutrality movement has been against something called "sponsored data." Generally with a mobile phone plan, you have a certain amount of data you can use before you have to pay for more. But now you have some companies "sponsoring" data. That means if you use their website or service, that won't count toward your data cap. They're doing you a favor, right?
But the Net Neutrality movement is calling foul. Sure, this looks great for the consumer today, but it's breaking net neutrality, they say. So we ought to avoid these offers.
I'm a little torn and would love your input. Here's why: sponsored data is a form of marketing that's been used for years, and to me it seems to generally empower people. "We'll give you this FREE show called Friends, but while you're watching it, you'll see some ads from our sponsors." Well now, we can't have that, can we? Because the companies who have the money to buy ads on these amazing programs are likely to grow. And that won't be fair to businesses that can't afford to advertise.
Here's another example. Coke Zero is promoting itself on TV by asking you to open an app called Shazam and letting the app listen to the commercial. When it hears that commercial, it delivers you a coupon for a free Coke Zero, redeemable at local merchants. So let's see ... they are paying you to use their product. I don't hear Pepsi calling foul.
But now we have companies willing to pay the cost of your data if you'll use their services, and that is somehow a problem? Let's see ... did Verizon slow your data to other websites? No. Did they reduce the data you can pay for? No. They're just letting you use additional data with certain services at no direct cost to you.
No direct cost? Well of course ... paying for data is a cost that these services will have to recoup another way, either by charging you more money for the service or by having more ads. (Uh ... sponsors. "Sponsored Services.") So Netflix might be "free" to use on a mobile service, but it might also bump its service up $1/month to cover that "free" use. In some way, it WILL be paid for by the consumer.
This also means that a start-up, if they can develop what Netflix has developed, could charge $1/month LESS since they're not sponsoring data. Or they can sponsor data. Still seems like a level playing field to me.
I get it. The concern is that eventually you'll only have access to services that pay. But this supposes that mobile phone companies (or Comcast, Dish, etc.) will one day NOT accept you paying for your own data. Where you can visit whatever sites you want. Or that people will one day not be willing to pay for data in order to visit the sites they want.
I don't see that day coming soon. Do you? As long as we're not somehow penalized for the data we buy (i.e., slower speeds than what companies can buy) so we can browse all websites equally, this seems like standard business practice to me. Is it a bad one? I'd love your thoughts.