Net Neutrality, Trade-Offs & the “Bandwidth Hog Tax”

by on October 25, 2009 · 8 comments

Joe Tighe, an IT Infrastructure Consultant, has an interesting essay up over at Circle ID.  He takes a hard look at Rep. Ed Markey’s proposed “Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009″ and makes an argument that many of us here have made ad nauseum — regulation involves trade-offs and unintended consequences:

One of the main problems with the proposed legislation is the lack of recognition of costs to provide internet services. Some applications, such as video are bandwidth hogs and require significantly greater network infrastructure and associated costs to deliver when compared to the network infrastructure costs to deliver email access. Under the proposed legislation, services providers would have to charge the low bandwidth users (casual browsers and email readers) more to offset the higher costs of the video users. One result of the proposed legislation would be less consumer choice and a hidden “bandwidth hog tax”. Today, most service providers offer tiered products and pricing to consumers and businesses to account for the additional costs to deliver bandwidth intensive applications. You pay more if you use more under the tiered pricing model. These are not “discriminatory” practices. Rather, tiered pricing and application prioritization are sound business models delivering reliable, profitable product choices and unburdened internet ecommerce. Consumers and businesses currently have choices. The proposed legislation takes away choice and increases costs to consumers and businesses.

Quite right.  Read the whole essay here.

  • Uri

    “Under the proposed legislation, services providers would have to charge the low bandwidth users (casual browsers and email readers) more to offset the higher costs of the video users.”

    “Quite right.”

    Adam, can you please point me to the specific article in the proposal that would cause this? This is presumably one of the articles of the proposed section 12(b) but it's not obvious to me which one would have that result. Which specific one supports Joe's claim?

  • zeroshade

    Tiered pricing would not be illegal under net neutrality. However, the ISP wouldn't be able to, for example, allow a customer to have video traffic but purposely slow down peer-to-peer traffic. If one person starts hogging bandwidth, it's still perfectly legitimate to throttle that person. It will not be allowed, however, to only throttle one specific type of traffic.

  • Uri

    “Under the proposed legislation, services providers would have to charge the low bandwidth users (casual browsers and email readers) more to offset the higher costs of the video users.”

    “Quite right.”

    Adam, can you please point me to the specific article in the proposal that would cause this? This is presumably one of the articles of the proposed section 12(b) but it's not obvious to me which one would have that result. Which specific one supports Joe's claim?

  • zeroshade

    Tiered pricing would not be illegal under net neutrality. However, the ISP wouldn't be able to, for example, allow a customer to have video traffic but purposely slow down peer-to-peer traffic. If one person starts hogging bandwidth, it's still perfectly legitimate to throttle that person. It will not be allowed, however, to only throttle one specific type of traffic.

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