Apr 18, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

Neutrality Encourages Innovation

Too often, the discussion of why we need to protect the open Internet degenerates into a stale debate about regulation versus the free market. In fact, it’s impossible for innovation to continue apace without some basic rules of the road to protect that innovation.

Until 2005, net neutrality – a prohibition on Internet network operators from being able to decide what kind of applications could be used over the Internet, as long as they adhered to the standard Internet protocol that governs the way the ‘Net works  -- was the law of the land. The open Internet was the principle leading the development of the Internet as the first open global communications network. And it helped drive the development of a host of Internet applications like Facebook, YouTube, and Skype. There would have been no motivation for the developers of these applications to have expended time, effort, and in some cases, their own financial security, in pursuit of their vision if they weren’t guaranteed their inventions would have been able to work over any Internet connection Unfortunately, thanks to aggressive lobbying by telephone and cable companies interested in leveraging control of their networks to squeeze additional revenue from users and Internet companies in pay –to-play pricing plans, the rules have changed. Broadband Internet now is denied the same neutrality protections of plain old telephone services. 

When we experienced this policy u-turn, we were told that the impact of removing this protection would be non-existent. But over the last three years, activity by the broadband network operators has thrown doubt and uncertainty into the marketplace and cast a pall over continued innovation. Most recently, Comcast has used its power over their network to block certain peer–to-peer applications from operating properly.