Why Do Content Companies Want Net Neutrality?

by on September 30, 2009 · 9 comments

Last Wednesday, Holman Jenkins penned a column in The Wall Street Journal about net neutrality (Adam discussed it here). In response, I have a letter to the editor in today’s The Wall Street Journal:

To the Editor:

Mr. Jenkins suggests that Google would likely “shriek” if a startup were to mount its servers inside the network of a telecom provider. Google already does just that. It is called “edge caching,” and it is employed by many content companies to keep costs down.

It is puzzling, then, why Google continues to support net neutrality. As long as Google produces content that consumers value, they will demand an unfettered Internet pipe. Political battles aside, content and infrastructure companies have an inherently symbiotic relationship.

Fears that Internet providers will, absent new rules, stifle user access to content are overblown. If a provider were to, say, block or degrade YouTube videos, its customers would likely revolt and go elsewhere. Or they would adopt encrypted network tunnels, which route around Internet roadblocks.

Not every market dispute warrants a government response. Battling giants like Google and AT&T can resolve network tensions by themselves.

Ryan Radia

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

To be sure, the market for residential Internet service is not all that competitive in some parts of the country — Rochester, New York, for instance — so a provider might in some cases be able to get away with unsavory practices for a sustained period without suffering the consequences. Yet ISP competition is on the rise, and a growing number of Americans have access to three or more providers. This is especially true in big cities like Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C.

Instead of trying to put a band-aid on problems that stem from insufficient ISP competition, the FCC should focus on reforming obsolete government rules that prevent ISP competition from emerging. Massive swaths of valuable spectrum remain unavailable to would-be ISP entrants, and municipal franchising rules make it incredibly difficult to lay new wire in public rights-of-way for the purpose of delivering bundled data and video services.

  • hdtvinformation

    A good portion of the internet pipes currently laid were subsidized by the government, aka the people, so why should we be forced into degration of quality or content providers being forced to pay twice for their bandwidth?

    1) the bandwidth they already pay for at their colocations
    2) to the ISP for the last mile delivery

    There is no free riding from content providers as they pay for their colocation data transfer and users pay ample amounts for their access which allow companies to make a decent profit (they are running pretty good now at the prices they pay eh?)

    While you attempt to address ISP competition, it is not a reality in 99% of markets.

    As we have seen in health care, when market concentrations are as high as they are (even with 3 market participants), companies can all adopt the same business practices which allow them to raise prices for the same levels or decreasing levels of service without being forced to innovate with their profits. Some markets have increased competition, but something around 75% or so (mb higher) do not, leading to increased prices and lower quality of service.

    It is well known that hosting companies over promise and under deliver to provide “unlimited bandwidth packages”, while there is ample competition to negate that in that market, this is not the case when it comes to ISPs, and will lead to the same issues.

    You could say that Comcast V Bittorrent was resolved between companies, but the government did step in to push comcast's hand. Furthermore, how can one argue that twitter and blogs would be sufficient in preventing a company from acting in bad faith? It hasn't stopped Health Insurance companies that have a virtual monopoly and it wont stop ISPs.

    All NN would do is prevent ISPs from having the ability to limit network protocols or block specific sites based upon ISP determination. I'm not sure why all the boogeymen arguments are floating around here day after day.

  • quanticle

    The “edge-caching” argument is a canard. Google had to grow to a very substantial size before it could afford the hardware necessary for an extensive edge-caching strategy. Google's leadership recognizes that, without net neutrality, Google could have been prevented from growing large enough to afford its edge caching strategy. Therefore Google fights for net neutrality to ensure that other start-ups have the same equality of opportunity that Google did. Is that so wrong?

  • dm

    It may seem a bit naive to say that Google does anything to provide other startups with the same opportunity — until you realize that what Google will do with the successful (or at least promising) ideas is buy them.

    Who knows why Google might be pushing for net neutrality? It's not really important. What is important is that the absence of net neutrality not stifle new innovations nor limit the diversity of opinion available on the Internet.

  • dm

    It may seem a bit naive to say that Google does anything to provide other startups with the same opportunity — until you realize that what Google will do with the successful (or at least promising) ideas is buy them.

    Who knows why Google might be pushing for net neutrality? It's not really important. What is important is that the absence of net neutrality not stifle new innovations nor limit the diversity of opinion available on the Internet.

  • Pingback: online football manager

  • Pingback: Twitter Home

  • Pingback: prix de l'immobilier

  • Pingback: payday loans reviews

  • Pingback: cleaning services nyc

Previous post:

Next post: