Real Solution for Net Neutrality

The concept of unfettered access is useful except in reality. Several free web hosting providers from years ago have disappeared. Most free websites giving you email, relationship dialog, and photo sharing are subsidized by advertising. Many free things widely used on the Web and mobile would not last if they depended on payment directly from users.

The computers that deliver this free stuff are not free and the equipment that move data from point A to Z are not free. The lines in the ground were not free to set up, the towers that emit information over the wireless spectrum are not free. Every web page that shows up on a screen arrived by way of hardware with a cost to acquire and operate.

The major tech companies have buildings full of computers that represent a huge investment. The free services they deliver to computer screens is paid for by advertising or other offerings. The business model of the web is mass behavioral research. The inputs into that research are both direct and indirect. That is a sustainable business except it does not guarantee unlimited network access.

Besides behavioral research, another business model is subscriber access to content. It is the trigger for net neutrality. No one should begrudge telecom providers wanting a cut for what will be an enormous industry in subscriber access to content. They have costs in operating the equipment critical for data to get from point A to Z. A path does exist for keeping things as they are in terms of the cost of access to the Web.

Monopolies do make more money but the catch is they also absorb greater costs. The process of commerce sometimes results in unintentional monopolies. A company may not set out to become one of just a few providers of a service, but at the end of the day, the goal of a company is to operate and profit. Becoming a monopoly may be a side-effect of normal business behavior. Costs increase.

The way to net neutrality is competition. Government can be most helpful in fostering competition. The idea of competition is uncomfortable to many who want to win and perhaps win by default, but for those of us needing access to things, competition can be crucial. Cost of living is increasing and digital technology once seen as an approach to controlling costs is actually increasing cost of living.

Wages are stagnant or declining for many people and the Web is increasingly a mandatory way for people to find work, apply for jobs, and watch instructional video to upgrade skills. Market competition is the best way to spread out the operational costs of the Internet to gain a more favorable situation for industry and users alike. A net neutrality discussion along these lines could prove beneficial to all parties.


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