This week there will be an FCC Forum in Boston where the FCC will be discussing many issues regarding the future of the internet. While the lobbying system of the US is wonderful in that it allows many to have their voices heard in Washington, the problem has been in many industries, the people with the most money scream loudest.
As is so common in many situations, the squeaky wheels get the grease. And let’s just say that large phone and cable companies are professional squeakers. Again, not that there is anything wrong with this from a shareholder perspective and even in terms of the law… Lobbying is within a companies’ rights.
So it will be with great interest that I watch what happens at the FCC Forum next week. It is a fair bet that issues of net neutrality will be very important as we progress as a nation. In addition, the odds are good that other countries will adopt similar ideals to those in the US.
We must have a balance in our policies which allow service providers to make as much money as they can without interfering with competition. We need service providers to be strong, invest in new technologies and help us compete as a nation. We also need to draw strong lines in the sand so service providers will know how far they can go without crossing over into areas that they shouldn’t.
For example, I do not have an answer to the issue of service providers slowing down certain applications. If indeed this is done for the good of all users on the network, then is it so bad?
But then again, perhaps the biggest issue is that of transparency. If a service provider decides to take liberties such as slowing a customer’s internet connection, shouldn’t customers be informed along the way?
Likewise, some service providers will boot subscribers off their networks or put limits on their future browsing speeds if they exceed certain limits.
While it is nice for service providers to protect the integrity of their networks, who are they to arbitrarily do these things without telling their customers.
If service providers will engage in practices such as shutting off customers who go over certain limits it is incumbent upon the FCC in my opinion to force these providers to set up a web dashboard where users can see how close they are to going over their allotted download amounts.
Perhaps a three strikes and you’re out policy makes sense here.
In other words, service providers have a power over customers which seems awfully arbitrary and customers have shown they are not fans of this sort of behavior. I suggest the FCC spend some time discussing these issues with service providers if they want to act in the best interests of US citizens.