TAKE ACTION: Congress is trying sneak through a dangerous amendment that will kill Net Neutrality. Call right now: https://t.co/lmObQjG49N
— EFF (@EFF) July 15, 2014
This tweet is lie. Congress can't "kill Net Neutrality" because Net Neutrality doesn't currently exist. Net Neutrality proponents don't want to maintain the status quo, but radically change the Internet, converting it from the private network it is now into a public utility, regulated by the government.
What the left-wing populists tell you about Net Neutrality is a lie. Corporations aren't doing the evil things they claim. There is no technical idea behind it like "end-to-end". Net Neutrality is just the political belief that corporations are inherently evil and that the government must run the Internet.
Internet "fast lanes" are not a bad thing. They already exist, and the Internet can't function without them. Sniff your home traffic and then traceroute every IP address your system communicates with. You'll find that 90% of you home traffic goes to a server in your local city. That's because most websites use a fast lane to the "content delivery network" ("CDN") like Akamai, or a private CDN by Google, Apple, or Facebook. No company with a major web presence can compete unless they, too, pay for a fast lane.
Such fast lanes are the way the Internet has to work. We imagine that I can setup my own website at home and the entire world can access it (in an end-to-end fashion), but Internet backbone simply cannot handle the traffic. Netflix alone requires thousands of times more bandwidth than the Internet backbone can provide without using fast lanes. That's the difference between "broadcast" television where a million people can watch the same stream, and "unicast" video where everyone watches their own custom stream.
This dispute between Comcast and Netflix is not what they claim. Netflix already pays for a fast lane by putting servers in every city, because it wouldn't work otherwise. The only question is how, within each city, the traffic streams from Netflix's servers to Comcast's network.
And even then that's still not the key question. Netflix now pays Comcast for a faster lane, putting their servers directly on the Comcast network. Yet, during peak hours (8pm to 10pm), the system still slows down dramatically to under 3-mbps (where I live). That's because Comcast's urban network still can't handle the bandwidth. For Netflix to truly work, either Comcast will have to put more fiber in the ground to spread the streams around, or Netflix will have to spread their servers around the city.
Either way, it's Netflix's customers that should have to pay for the upgrade. Comcast's network works fine for the 90% of customers who don't stream lots of Netflix videos. It's only Netflix customers who have the problem. Forcing Comcast to upgrade their network to support Netflix means forcing the majority of low-bandwidth customers to subsidize the high-bandwidth customers. This is inherently unfair. I'm a Netflix binge watcher, and I appreciate that my viewing has been subsidized, but I still find it unfair. The only fair solution is for Netflix's customers to pay for Comcast's build-out.
Net Neutrality proponents claim that American broadband is the slowest and most expensive in the world. Of course it is. American cities are spread out. Our commute distances are twice that of European cities. The greater the suburban sprawl, the more expensive the Internet service. My city has less than 10% the population density of Paris, of course Comcast broadband is going to cost more here. American's pay a lot more to commute to work, they should pay a lot more for broadband.
Comcast is a monopoly in my city. Only Comcast provides more than 6-mbps for home service (my service is 75-mbps). However, the fault is government regulators. They won't allow another company to come in and lay a fiber optic network unless that company agrees to lay fiber everywhere -- even the poor areas of town. That's why Google could afford to put fiber in places like Kansas City, because the city council agreed that Google only had to lay fiber in neighborhoods that would pay for the service. The answer to Comcast monopoly practices is less regulation, not more. If you want companies to provide high-speed broadband to poor neighborhoods to solve the digital divide, then it's something you should pay for, rather than forcing Comcast's potential competitors into paying for it. Companies don't operate at a loss -- when you force them to, they simply choose to not operate at all.
Net Neutrality is just left-wing populism run amok, playing on your fears in order to convert the private Internet into a government-regulated public utility like water, gas, and electricity. This won't "save" the Internet as they promise, but kill all innovation. Of course, if you are a left-winger, this is something you'll want, and nothing I can say can convince you otherwise. But it's something that libertarians and right-wingers will oppose.