While I don't think that passing laws in favor of net neutrality is necessarily the right way to go about things, it really is amazing to watch anti-net neutrality types completely make up bogus arguments in favor of their position. We pointed this out exactly two years ago, when lobbyist Mike McCurry wrote a blatantly bogus
editorial, claiming that Google didn't pay a cent for its broadband bills, and that it was arguing in favor of net neutrality to avoid having to pay for broadband. This was an outright lie -- and I challenged McCurry to agree to pay Google's bandwidth bill. Not surprisingly, McCurry declined -- though, the organization he represents, Hands Off The Internet, has shown that it reads Techdirt and doesn't mind quoting us out of context
when it furthers its telco-funded argument.
Yet, here we are again, with anti-net neutrality supporters are making completely bogus claims about how net neutrality somehow prevents them from charging more. The Wall Street Journal is running an anti-Kevin Martin editorial
, claiming that his decision to sanction Comcast for traffic shaping is a victory for net neutrality supporters, and then stating:
Net neutrality proponents.... would prohibit Internet service providers from using price to address the ever-growing popularity of streaming video and other bandwidth-intensive programs that cause bottlenecks.
That's simply untrue. No one is saying they can't charge more for bandwidth. Again, does anyone really believe that Google isn't paying a ridiculously large bandwidth bill? Instead, as Tim Lee describes, net neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with price
. What the telcos are really trying to do is get you to pay twice
for the same
bandwidth. That's because internet connectivity has always been about paying for the connection from your home to the "cloud." We each pay for that connectivity from the ends, to the middle of the network. So, note, all of those connections are fully paid for.
What the telcos are trying to do with breaking net neutrality is also
get companies providing services to pay again
for connectivity from that middle out to users. As you'll recall, those users have already paid for that bandwidth themselves. So, the telcos are, in effect, looking to double charge
for bandwidth already charged for.
This has huge implications when you think about it. After all, if everyone providing content and services to the middle also has to pay to deliver that to the ends, then it makes the initial connection that much less
valuable. Telcos may be shooting themselves in the foot by trying to do this. In double charging companies for the bandwidth consumers are already paying for, they may make it such that consumers are a lot less willing to pay for it, since it will be a lot less useful. Note that none of this
says that the telcos can't charge what they want for the initial bandwidth -- from the customer to the middle. Net neutrality advocates are simply saying it doesn't make sense to then charge again
to send content from the middle outward. After all, it's already paid for, and who pays for "half a connection" anyway? The reason you pay for a connection is to get on the net. Not to get to the middle where the next tollbooth exists.