To proponents of Net Neutrality, I pose the following question: should the data packets sent and received by a remote surgical suite get equal treatment as those of the cat videos you’re watching on your mobile device when you should be paying attention in class?
In the first case latency, packet loss and jitter can have profound, life-threatening consequences. In the second, a few dropped frames and artifacting won’t really detract from the overall experience of watching a cat get her head stuck in a cardboard box.
Today, when people talk about Net Neutrality, what they really mean and care about are their streaming videos. People want to be able to watch their Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or YouTube without AT&T, Comcast, Verizon or TimeWarner throttling the bandwidth to make their own proprietary video-on-demand format the preferential choice.
Those arguing for Net Neutrality, by and large, don’t really care about an “open Internet” and don’t understand how the underlying framework actually works – they only want to watch the high definition videos of their choice on their platform of choice.
The fact is the “big iron” routers that make up the backbone of the Internet already prioritize traffic – they have to or the system breaks down. The real issue is peerage. The Tier 1 networks all agree to carry each others traffic (peer) as long as there is equality between incoming and outgoing traffic.
Streaming video services like Netflix have vastly more outgoing traffic than incoming, which upsets the peering balance and they have to be charged more (and pass that cost onto the customers) as a result.
For real open and free Internet, the focus should be on ending the government-sanctioned regional telecom monopolies, allowing competitors into the marketplace and providing more choices. Companies react when their customer base drops.
John Hornor is a senior chemical engineering major from Water Valley.