Thank you very much for asking me to talk to you, I am aware that the city government may have very little control of this issue, however I still believe that it is vitally important to get the word out to those in the government and the population at large. Right now Net Neutrality issue is only known primarily among the young and very tech savvy, mostly 18- 30 year olds.
In order to understand the issue, one must have a little bit of knowledge about how the Internet works. If we were to imagine the Spavanaw River, Arkansas River and Lake Oolagah as the Internet at large, we can then imagine the first pumping stations that pump water out of the major bodies of water and into pipes as the Internet Service Providers (or ISPs for short). Some examples ISPs are AT&T, Virgin Mobile, Earthlink, AOL, etc. From here the water is pumped through pipes to multiple places in the city, these are the nodes where the fiber optic cable is split into copper wires running house to house. Information can be imagined fairly well as water flowing through a pipe, the bigger the pipe, the more water you can push through at once(this is called bandwidth).
Now with that out of the way we can get to the root of the issue. The term Network Neutrality was coined in the late 90's, but did not come into widespread use until 2000. Net Neutrality defined as â€œThe idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally. This allows the network to carry every form of information and support every kind of application.â€?(http://timwu.org/network_neutrality.html) The major debate started in 2005 when the FCC reversed a decision that kept ISPs from discriminating against content and formats on the Internet by slowing access down by
lowering bandwidth, essentially making the pipe smaller so less people can have access to a site at once, thus creating artificial scarcity. This has the effect of making people who have more money pay more so they can have the data routed to them first while everyone else has to wait. ISPs could also throttle bandwidth to sites run by competitors or by causes that the ISPs may not support. Many people against regulation of the ISPs say that it is not needed and the providers would not use selective distribution. However you have to think if they wouldn't do this, then why do they care if it is illegal, just like how the only ones worried about fuel economy regulation are the oil companies. Companies have even set up fake grassroots sites that they fund, http://netcompetition.org for example; they use misinformation, highly payed lobbyists and donations to political campaigns to sway public and government sentiments.(http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2006/06/07/AR2006060702108.html)
Worse yet they could also theoretically offer tiered services. Virgin Mobile was going to do this and even print ads were made, but nothing came of it. These ads do prove that there is real danger here. A scan of the print ad is on the last page of this paper. It advertises you get access to â€œover 60 websitesâ€? for $30, 200 for $40 and finally 2000 for $50, even the most expensive option is only a small fraction of the sites on the web. What we run into here is what happened to radio back in the early 1930's. Back then radio's were expensive and rare many amateurs started broadcasting on the radio spectrum just talking to friends or running the equivalent of blogs. The government came in and broke it up into pieces; Each piece was sold to an organization that had permission to broadcast on only one chunk of a band, these were the first radio stations. Soon After this all of the spectrum eventually was bought up by cooperations that formed monopolies, by the 1950's there were no individuals broadcasting on the radio outside of the tiny CB spectrum. However this was necessary as the radio
spectrum is limited. We can only put so many stations on it or else it becomes crowded and you would hear 2 or 3 people at once making it unusable. The Internet is different. if you want more space you just bury more fiber optic cables or put faster computers on the transfer end. If ISPs were allowed to go to a tier-based system some people could not afford the higher tiers of service and could not visit most sites, this would lower traffic to small sites and they would eventually die from lack of interest and viewers, thus leaving only large sites that exist on the cheaper tiers. My father is a beekeeper and sews ventilated bee-suits that generate quite a bit of income for our family at http://www.honeymoonapiaries.com/, this would put him out of business. The Internet would then become like radio and television are today, no individuals, only corporations that own large sites. This also raises the question of extortion, if AT&T said to Facebook we are going to switch your position on the first tier with the second tier position of MySpace do you think that the cooperation running Facebook might make a “donation” to AT&T?
The position that the FCC has since take on Net Neutrality is as such (http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-05-151A1.pdf)
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition
among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.
Take note of the fact that these say “Encourage” not “Require”. This is not a strong enough stance. In 2006 a bill that would take a strong stance on Net Neutrality, only meager recommendations, was proposed but never passed in the senate. However there is hope. Rep. Ed Markey and Rep. Chip Pickering introduced HR5353 on Feb. 11 2008. This bill would uphold the tenets of net neutrality, It is still being debated in the Senate. Later, in August 2008 the FCC voted 3-2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast, scoring a decisive victory for freedom.(http://markey.house.gov/images/PDFs/netneutralitybill.pdf )
In conclusion, The Internet is the last mass communication method that anyone can use to communicate to a large number of people. First there were the pamphlets of the revolutionary and civil war, some of which are responsible for the American Revolution such as Thomas Paine's “Common Sense” and Johnathan Swift's “A Modest Proposal” which alerted Americans to the severity of the impoverished Irish and quelled xenophobic sentiment. Soon though private printing was swallowed up by rising costs. Later radio and television came and went as major amateur broadcasting media. If we let the Internet go we will have nothing left. Bloggers are now the protectors of the independent media, the watchdogs that look for scandal, If the Internet were restricted to major sites no one would be able to publish a story and have it seen by hundreds or thousands. Without this distribution method we would lose a great amount of our independent media, and with that a great amount of our freedom.
Many thanksRobert Samples