The Unrestricted Flow of the Internet

It appears that the FCC is on the cusp of implementing Net Neutrality regulations that would prevent Internet service providers, or ISPs, (like Comcast or AT&T’s mobile broadband) from charging more money to serve bandwidth-intensive content like video and other media. The ISPs don’t like this, and these choice quotes underscore a fundamental problem of letting some industries run unchecked (all quotes from the BBC’s coverage):

“…a new set of regulations that will limit customer choices and affect content providers, application developers, device manufacturers and network builders…” – Verizon

“…so it’s still fair to ask whether increased regulation of the internet is a solution in search of a problem.” – Comcast

“We are concerned the FCC appears ready to extend the entire array of net neutrality requirements to what is perhaps the most competitive consumer market in America – wireless services.” – AT&T

This reminds me of a fantastic article I read on Rands In Repose back in March about the Brooklyn Bridge. I think this describes the ISPs fairly well:

When Brooklyn and New York’s population was booming at the end of the 19th century, the best way to get to and from Brooklyn was via ferries. As solutions were considered, I’m sure there were those who simply thought, “More boats!” These ardent defenders of the status quo were not engineers — they were the business. Their goal was not to build something great, but to make a profit.

AT&T and other wireless carriers will only increase their data capacity as much as they have to. Perhaps the FCC’s new rules will light a fire under their collective butt.

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