It doesn’t take long for the spin machines to get up to speed. In perhaps one of the weirdest statements of fact, it was noted that all of the Democrats that supported a net neutrality pledge sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) loss during Tuesday’s vote. According to Scott Cleland, a net neutrality opponent, “Net neutrality was completely repudiated in the election.” If only that were actually true.
I say that because, if it were true, then most Americans would know that a significant debate called “net neutrality” existed. Scott Cleland’s statement falls in the more appropriate camp of "Lies, damned lies, and statistics.” The US, as a people, has no position on net neutrality. However, one take away from Tuesday is that more people want to see smaller government and a better environment for growing businesses and creating jobs. Net neutrality probably falls into the camp of smaller government when addressed by most people and, to some, there is recognition of its potential negative impact on network infrastructure investment. Addressing the issues of net neutrality incorrectly would slow job creation and affect the economic contribution of members of the IP ecosystem. Therefore, Scott Cleland’s premise is factual, even though the example used, has no merit.
Having been a strong supporter of net neutrality, I have evolved to what I believe is the proper solution. Private enterprise must be allowed to make decisions that impact their businesses without having to look over their shoulders for the government intervention. Additionally, consumers must be able to purchase IP communication products without concern as to whether their service provider will support those products properly. I am firmly against the proposal put forth by Verizon and Google. We do not need an Internet modeled along the lines of public television and cable. We do, however, need to finally get over the attitude that the Internet should be free. Bandwidth is not free. Building network infrastructure is a costly effort. ISPs, like Broadvox, should be able to charge what is necessary to generate a profit and economic gain for their investors and shareholders. Capitalism is not a dirty word. Moreover, consumer protection is not a bad principle.
As I look for rational opposing voices of net neutrality, those understanding the needs of service providers and the consumer, I find myself roaming an empty wilderness. Our future as a global economic power is tied to our success in addressing net neutrality properly. The correct answer supports the expansion of broadband and improvement in the speeds available. The correct answer supports the growth of VoIP/SIP Trunking and the myriad of high bandwidth consuming applications (video, gaming, rich media, etc.). We will not reach the correct answer if the rational voices remain silent or are yelled over by the extremists supporting or opposing net neutrality.
Time will tell if Tuesday was historic or just another swing of the pendulum.