1. Massive monopolies which essentially control 95% of all tech (google, facebook, amazon, microsoft, apple, etc)
2. An internet where every consumer assumes everything should be free.
3. An internet where there's only enough room for a handfull of players in each market globally i.e. if you have a "project-management app" there will not be a successfull one for each country much less hundreds for each country.
4. Huge barriers of entry for any new player into many of the markets (no one can even begin competing with google search for less than 20 million).
I think there's still a lot of potential to open up new markets with different policies that would make the internet a much better place for both consumers and entrepreneurs - especially the small guys. I'm just not 100% sure maintaining net-neutrality is the best way to help the little guy and bolster innovation. Anyone have any ideas how we could alleviate some of the above mentioned problems?
EDIT: another question :) If net-neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with the tech monopolies maintaining their power position then why do they all support it? [https://internetassociation.org/]
Many years ago your list wouldn't have included facebook, it would have included myspace. If FB was required to make a deal with every ISP in the US, do you think they would have been able to grow? Ditto for Google and Amazon.
> 2. An internet where every consumer assumes everything should be free.
I don't see how this is the fault of net neutrality. In fact, it's completely unrelated. We can have net neutrality and pay for content, many people do, viz Hulu, Netflix, iTunes Store, &c.
> 3. An internet where there's only enough room for a handfull of players in each market globally i.e. if you have a "project-management app" there will not be a successfull one for each country much less hundreds for each country.
I have no idea what you mean or how this is related.
> 4. Huge barriers of entry for any new player into many of the markets (no one can even begin competing with google search for less than 20 million).
It's easier to do that than it is to make a deal with every ISP in the US. I really have no idea how this isn't doublethink.
It would be much more difficult obviously. But it would also have been much more difficult for myspace in the first place and if they got too big the the gov't could easily split them up. There might be many such companies providing facebook-like services in such a scenario. Maybe not, but its not something I've heard anyone discuss.
"I don't see how this is the fault of net neutrality. In fact, it's completely unrelated"
I don't know if that's a fact. If ISPs could charge for particular services, consumers might be more aware that in order to get a certain service like translation or search or ordering a pizza they need to pay some % per month for it making them more apt to purchase other services. Again I don't know if this would be the case but its something I'd like to see someone look into.
"It's easier to do that than it is to make a deal with every ISP in the US".
Why would I necessarily need to make a deal with every ISP. For most products I think you probably don't really care or need to be everywhere in the USA especially when starting out.
Please elaborate. How would ending net neutrality help the government easily split up myspace?
> If ISPs could charge for particular services
Then they would, and don't be surprised if they kept the lion's share of the profits, not giving much if anything to startups. Without net neutrality, ISPs could say "we're allowing you startups the privilege of being available through us, so don't expect any money from us"
> Why would I necessarily need to make a deal with every ISP. For most products I think you probably don't really care or need to be everywhere in the USA especially when starting out.
Ok but you initially said "no one can even begin competing with google search for less than 20 million" and guess what - that fact would not go away if you removed net neutrality. In fact, it would get even worse. You would need way more than 20 million, because now you also would have to pay the ISPs.
How do you compete against competing services owned by ISPs?
If your alternative is that ISP are prohibited from owning content producers, you're the only one pushing that plan.
The only serious alternative being offered is that the invisible hand will deal with all the problems.
Good question. I guess you wouldn't need to as long as the ISP market is competitive. You might go to another competitor and convince them your product is good or your product can help/augment the service they are currently providing.
The invisible hand would be really interesting to watch there.
How would it be competitive? If my ISP released its own Netflix and throttled my connection to Netflix to the point where Netflix seemed extremely slow but my ISP's version of Netflix was super fast, there would be no competition. My ISP would dominate.
> You might go to another competitor and convince them your product is good or your product can help/augment the service they are currently providing.
Do you mean go to another ISP? There aren't that many consumer ISPs around, so what happens when they've all made a deal with someone's Netflix, and a new company wants to revolutionize/reinvent their own Netflix? Now it's even harder for them to do so, because the existing players already have contracts to make themselves very fast and everyone else very slow.
Currently, this stuff can't happen (legally) due to NN, but if you remove NN, you enable this stuff, and you prevent new competition from coming up.
I should note that competition amongst ISPs wouldn't do much to prevent zero-rating, which is still problematically anti-competitive.
But it's not.
2) I think will only continue to be true for a short period of time. With products like Netflix and amazon, and with traditional television channels like HBO and ESPN starting to charge for streaming online, I think consumer attitude will shift as they realize that it's worth paying for content on the internet.
3) I'm skeptical is actually true and I'm skeptical that it's bad if true.
4) for most internet products the barrier of entry is smaller. You're only looking at one company. Compare to a company like Boeing, where it would take hundereds of millions to compete.
In what way would it be harder for them to be dethroned exactly?
Yeah, sure, the data maybe still gets through. But now it's getting through at a reduced rate and (potentially) lower quality of service. This prevents new businesses from being able to enter into many markets. Having to establish peering arrangements with many ISPs individually instead of just with the few that they directly use.
Want an alternative to AWS/Azure? Good luck, not only do they need the physical infrastructure for hosting, they now need individual peering arrangements with many ISPs to provide the same QoS.
Then with broadband you end up with users given access to a larger portion of the pool, akin to overbooking an airline. If everyone in my town gets 1Mbps but the local ISP can only handle 1Gbps, well, 1000 users maxing it out will shut the rest of the town out. This gets to a legitimate case for traffic shaping, ensuring equal access to the common resource pool. Those users can still max it, but only when everyone else isn't using it (or using it minimally).
However, traffic shaping (and related things like blatant packet dropping) started being more generally applied, to whole protocols (bittorrent) or services (Netflix, et al.). The latter example is a particularly good example of a conflict of interest. Companies like Comcast control so many user experiences in the US, but they own NBC and other media brands, as well as providing video-on-demand services as part of their cable offerings. They have a clear reason to want to reduce the QoS of Netflix and can, legally, without network neutrality. This is directly harmful to customers experiences, and a bordering on an abuse of market position.
Really, though, it's silly to look at how things worked 30 years ago and think the exact same rules will apply today. The circumstances have all changed. Broadband-requiring, consumer-oriented services didn't exist 30 years ago. They do today. ISPs today are screwing over consumers and prospective new businesses. They are the robber barons of the digital age, imposing their taxes at each bend in the river and screwing over everyone upstream and downstream to make a buck.
Previously, you had a lot more ISPs, even more operating in the same physical area when we had dial-up. They needed to cooperate. Their customers' desired data wasn't on their network, and they were barely more than an interlink (services offered: dial-up, email, custom home page at isp.net/~user). If they didn't abide by peering arrangements businesses and customers would have been unable to communicate, making the ISPs unable to fulfill their purchases.
There are now far fewer ISPs and they have far more services and customers. They're in a position, due to the number of customers they have to bargain with, to demand quite a bit from other ISPs and content/service providers. Failing to peer with Comcast could mean losing half of all US broadband customers. So when they demand $$, you're in a bind and almost have to pay, or suffer lower QoS as a result.
Net Neutrality is not a magic cure all and it isn't neutral when only one side has to change. both providers of bandwidth and providers of services would need to adhere to specific rules for it to not stagnate and recreate AT&T/etc we suffered through in the early days (remember Long Distance where it was all protected ... yeah, no thank you
Are you saying that net neutrality protects existing players? Let's imagine removing net neutrality for a second. Now companies can pay ISPs for preferential treatment. Who has the money to pay the ISPs? Existing players. Thus, existing players get even harder to take down
You can, using just your skills and barely any money, compete with google and facebook this afternoon! (google and amazon will even give you a month to try for free) Your chances at winning are pretty low, but eventually someone will do it.
This has the effect of essentially creating a huge barrier to entry.
That's a 'lottery', not a 'barrier-lowering device'.
Please stop spreading this misleading idea.
Sure, not everything is that easy, but an open internet does allow for a massive leg up that many other industries could only dream of.
Imagine being able to take on Honda's lawnmower division competitively with less than $100 and a few months!
I should know - I am one of those corpses :-)
If not net neutrality helped you.
That's the misleading example I wish people to stop using.
It's certainly true that the barrier to entry for new products is lower because of net neutrality.
No, but as soon as Google starts abusing their monopoly status by turning into something reminiscent of Alta Vista, a new search engine will sprout up.
Google itself grew like wildfire in the late 90s not only because it offered superior search results, but because of the massive global reach it had, thanks to net neutrality! If the net wasn't neutral back then, AOL search would still rule the net.
You are right that net neutrality enabled Google's growth, but the barriers to a Google competitor are different now, and far more difficult to overcome than what Google faced.
Google is not trusted, but people use it because there is no alternative and the barriers to an alternative being built
The biggest challenge in replacing google would be getting the advertisers. Especially because at the start, your low userbase makes targeted adds much harder to pull off.
The fact that hasn't happened proves you are wrong.
Also nobody forces me or you to use google. It is a free choice, if a better search engine comes up we can use it and nobody forbids you to use other search engine or any site.
With net neutrality you are free. Without net neutrality you are bound to the services of the friends of the ISP. You have cable tv 2.0
no more freedom
However a better search engine cannot 'just come up', because Google is the result of billions of dollars of investment over more than 2 decades using data that is not publicly available.
Stop pretending otherwise.
1. Conglomo with 2 decades of competitive advantage
2. Conglomo with 2 decades of competitive advantage and the ability to pay ISPs for preferential treatment?
I am simply asking people to stop claiming that Google can be easily competed against with minimal resources if you are just clever. It's simply false.
Competing against google is a red herring when it comes to net neutrality.
Net neutrality hurts new products that don't compete against Google. It is barely relevant to competing against Google because the other barriers are so high.
In fact, the massive monopolies can already pay for better internet speed for their services by paying for better (physical) access to the ISPs network.
2) I'm not sure what causality you are implying here. Is it that if websites were forced to pay off ISPs they would have no choice but to charge users for content, and users would in turn get used to it?
3) Without net neutrality there is room for exactly one app - the ISP provided app, since everything else is blocked.
Currently there are people in my country (which is dominated by WhatsApp) that are using Telegram, Signal and Line, so it seems like there is some competition to the giants (and many people abandoned WhatsApp when it was bought by Facebook). You can imagine what would happen if Facebook was allowed to pay off local ISPs to block everything else (and since "everyone uses WhatsApp anyway" you can bet they'll all agree to it).
4) As shown above, net neutrality reduces the barrier of entering into the market because without it there is the additional barrier of paying off the ISPs to allow access to your service.
Therefore, I suggest that the best course of action we have right now to alleviate these problems is to strengthen net neutrality :)
You might want to check out the following guide https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/competition-guidance/guide-a... especially the "supply chain" portion.
You next comment "paying higher rates for better speed" is generally considered competition and lowers overall costs. I find most of the "net neutrality" arguments highly specious and circular.
It makes much more sense for FB to pay ISPs to make access to WhatsApp and Messenger free. That way the ISP doesn't have to deal with the angry backlash.
By giving them the power to selectively control what they're sending down the pipe, the monopoly problem will grow far far worse.
Net neutrality is not the cause of the problems you listed, and removing it won't solve any of them.
So, net neutrality is an attempt to fix regulation problem with more regulations. Which obviously cannot work for long, they are too big and have too much influence to push regulations that benefit them. At some point this could cause enough problems to become a political thing and new people in power would be forced to actually take action against them.
This mechanism may be a viable alternative to net neutrality as it drastically lowers the cost to enter the ISP market, and it would be in the competitive interest of some providers to self impose net neutrality.
My guess based on observation though is the infrastructure owning ISPs would probably prefer net neutrality to forced rental of their infra if one of those 2 regulations were to be chosen.
There's limited amount of space in the city infrastructure to use for laying all of the fiber.
I think the way forward would be to repeal those other regulations and keep net neutrality
This is simply not true. With the wide availability of cellular service that provides broadband speeds pretty much everyone in the country has multiple choices of ISP.
Fundamentally, though, nobody in the US can open a new cell phone operator now. The spectrum is bought and owned, the owners know how valuable it is, and owning light is a much scarcer and more valuable resource than any plot of land that billionaires are buying up in the present property investment bubble.
It is even worse than the ISP monopoly - ISPs are local monopolies. We have a national cartel of cell operators that can't face real competition because of a state guaranteed monopoly on radio waves. As is the nature of all business with guaranteed profits, eventually AT&T and Verizon will consume T-Mobile and Sprint, possibly even under this administration, where there will be much less anti-monopoly scrutiny, and then we will have two network operators controlling all the usable cellular bandwidth with no intent to let anyone else compete.
Just because we are in an... alright situation right now, doesn't guarantee that environment will persist forever. Cellular network operators are absolutely crooked and near guaranteed in a long enough time span to devolve into a duopoly, while we already have collusion between them today to screw over consumers.
1) often the broadband provided by mobile services is capped and/or much more expensive than the services provided by the 1 or at best 2 non-mobile ISPs you have access to.
2) in rural areas, often you do NOT have access to anything close to the same level of broadband speeds. There are a lot of places where the coverage is still spotty, and even where you have it, the speeds just aren't that great.
(again, I'm speaking about conditions in the US)
If 1 or 2 ISPs eventually own all commercial content creation, I can assure you it won't be good for low income internet users.
There are several possible solutions to this, ramped up enforcement of anti-trust laws, forced sharing of last mile infrastructure etc... Net neutrality isn't the only possible fix. Which fix do you prefer?
To your point about not needing fast download speeds. What's considered fast today is just "required to browser the internet" tomorrow. I used to get by with a 28.8kbps modem, but that's not a viable option today.
Secondly, I was in no way referring to "insanely fast broadband speeds and data download limits". I was talking about practical limits. Where I live, if I depended on mobile connectivity for internet service, it would be impractical to do anything that involved any media of any significant size. The connectivity would at best be barely capable, and the data limits and plan costs would make it hideously expensive. Therefore I have pretty much one ISP that can provide me with tolerable service.
However, the point I was trying to make is that your statement "With the wide availability of cellular service that provides broadband speeds pretty much everyone in the country has multiple choices of ISP." which was in response to the statement "ISPs and utility companies are natural monopolies. When you move to a new location, you're stuck with the ISPs that service that location; often just 1 ISP." is actually not true from a practical standpoint for many people in the US.
I don't just use the internet for entertainment. I use it for my work. And because of the limitations of where I live, that means basically one ISP can provide me with the service I need. The "broadband" service provided in my area by mobile companies, is first of all, not really "broadband" at all, and secondly, even if it was, it would not be practical given the high cost that said companies would charge for it.
I think that many people who live in cities underestimate the number of people who are in this situation (and no, I have not lived in a rural location for my entire career). It is certainly not true from a practical standpoint that "pretty much everyone" in the US has access to "broadband speeds" from multiple ISPs.
Well, that's progress anyhow.
This is completely unsubstantiated, and in fact quite likely the opposite. Often, rural WISPs will rely on other ISPs for backhaul. Imagine if ISPs could charge/throttle whatever they want, rather than treat the WISP's backhaul as an opaque pipe?
And I live in a country where data is cheap.
* The cost to enter the market is effectively nothing.
* The opportunity cost to switch new services is, again, nothing (change the URL).
* The opportunity cost to switch established services is not nothing (network effects, all friends are on Facebook, etc).
* The cost to acquire network effects is not nothing.
The later effects have nothing to do with the Internet. In any economy where window shopping options is free and competing is free, then whoever owns the collective opinion on your product domain is going to get a winner take all situation. Capitalism in general is like this - the more of a market you control, the more easily you can displace the competition through your own influence. That is why you get many natural monopolies.
Consumers expect web based content to be free because the marginal costs of their usage is effectively nothing (the per-user costs of running a server with a billion users requires many zeroes). Websites, and digital information in general, are non-scarce resources. Once made, making copies costs nothing. That is a much bigger rabbit hole though, and is generalized into broader problems of cognitive dissonance in people trying to put scarcity into non-scarce resources.
The only way to make the Internet - or more specifically, tcp/ip and http - more small guy friendly is to promote browsers to make content discovery easier at the browser level. Otherwise people will go to the silos they are familiar with / the ones they are told about.
Google et al fight for net neutrality because getting rid of it only makes ISPs richer at the cost of consumers and website hosts. The only possible state of being without net neutrality is paid bribes for service - Comcast will demand huge sums of money from Google et al or will throttle their services so their customers stop using them and use their own in-home products instead. And given the opportunity ISPs won't be some charity giving small business free rides - they will slow down or cripple the Internet for everyone except those who pay. The customers Google wants are a captive audience of major ISPs - without competition in the ISP market, and without net neutrality, every website operator needs to prostate themselves to the demands of ISPs to have their websites reach their audience, and the customers have no say in that relationship because they don't have a choice in ISP.
Also in what world does giving ISPs complete control of which services can even function on the internet help the "little guy"? You'll just replace the relatively healthy tech market with a 0 innovation series of walled gardens managed by each megacorp ISP-MediaCompany union.
As for the massive monopolies, that was born of US businesses. US tech monopolies are not original. Monopolies are a traditional form of how the US does its business. Just because the founders and their employees where shorts and shirts instead of suits, it was sold as "radical and new" when it was in fact the same old game.
Now that these major monopolies have established a significant foothold, they find it in their interest to remove net-neutrality to prevent anything disruptive from occurring to their bottom-line.
Also, net neutrality is about consumers not being monitored by ISPs.
>3. An internet where there's only enough room for a handfull of players in each market globally i.e. if you have a "project-management app" there will not be a successfull one for each country much less hundreds for each country.
I'm not sure either of these have anything to do with any particular policies, rather than just the nature of all maturing industries. Consolidation is always the tendency as an industry matures. Some policies try to slow or mitigate it, for example as Federal restrictions on radio station ownership did until the Telecom Act of 1996 ended that . But the natural endstate of any complex system is increasing concentration of critical resources of the system into fewer hands.
What exactly are the barriers to entry for search? Unlike social networks where reconstructing a social graph comparable to Facebook's is a major barrier to entry, what's to keep consumer eyeballs from just using another search engine as their default? Not much network effect there, seems habit and laziness are the only real barriers, but as far as barriers go those are the easiest for a competitor to break through. For example, I use DuckDuckGo for mine, and it's fine in all but a few edge cases.
Without net neutrality that isn't guaranteed.
It's difficult to compete with Google. But imagine competiting with an ISP owned version of Google who owns the last mile to all their customers.
Unless you think ISPs will simply block off many hosts, this is likely hyperbole.
More likely, certain services would be charged tolls upstream and others would be promoted with discounts.
Any service that competes with an ISP's service
> others would be promoted with discounts.
An ISP's or their partner's service.
When you have at most 3 but usually only 2 choices for an ISP in a local market, how do you think this will benefit anyone ither than them?
My only two choices are comcast and at&t DSL. I live in a dense, wealthy area where people would definitely pay for faster internet in a very large city, but the fastest speed i can get is 60 MBps for $80/month. These two companies are not known for innovation or treating their customers well. Comcast is regularly voted the worst company in America because of its terrible service.
Nn removal will add additional costs on trying to get your service noticed since they can arbitrarily put you in the slow lane. How will you be able to compete with an ISP in this landscape?
Comcast is also a huge content provider of crap I'd never watch: NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, E!, CNBC World. I watch a couple of shows from USA (Mr Robot) and SyFy(The Expanse) that I prefer to purchase by the season. I don't want to live in a world where those stations are fast laned and NEtflix (which will pay), crunchyroll, curiosityTV, youtube (will pay), various documentary streaming sites etc are in the slow lane.
One possible resolution I can see where this has a happy ending is that it causes Google, my municipality, etc to enter the ISP market. Unlikely because of the legal costs.
More likely option, I'll get SpaceX internet and deal with the 25ms latency. I'm already running a VPN, degrading my service, so that I'm not just another data point for marketers and advertisers to manipulate.
Look forward to your response and that you give me some hope
Even on that metric there's not a lot of downside vs. typical monopoly/duopoly ISPs. I have 20ms of last-mile latency on ATT.
The first makes it possible for anyone to be almost perfect in finding and using the best service in any field. The second makes it so that more users makes a service better.
I'd argue that this has led to overall better services, though at the cost of centralized powers.
Net neutrality helps everyone, especially the smaller companies, by making sure there is free and equal access to customers and other companies without being charged, profiled or otherwise blocked based on who you are or how much you pay.
Post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.
Just because NN was in place, does not give hardly any information how the events you describe would have played out.
If ISPs could charge web sites for fast lane treatment and such, Google, Netflix etc. would have the largest bills to pay.
They'll argue it as a moral point to drum up grassroots support, but in reality its just a business item for them. If the roles were reversed they'd push for the policy that let them charge other companies more.
By your definition, they're not monopolies, they're just big companies, they're all competing with each other and the occasional new-comer.
The monopolies you mentioned have very little to do with NN. Someone already gave example how Facebook replaced MySpace, similarly Google, replaced Yahoo, AltaVista etc, I suppose Amazon did not replace anything, but started e-commerce (and currently creating other markets, like cloud computing), but it is getting higher and higher competition.
Apple and Microsoft existed before Internet and are just using their old position to leverage their existence, but the fact they face competition.
> EDIT: another question :) If net-neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with the tech monopolies maintaining their power position then why do they all support it? [https://internetassociation.org/]
Simple, because it expands powers of existing monopolies making them relevant. Perfect example is Netflix. They providing service to stream movies. They pay also pay large amounts of money for Internet access and ability to send content to their users. On the other side users similarly are paying for Internet access to be able to receive the content.
You would think it's double paying (and it kind of is), but it's normal, why users should subsidize Netflix costs or why Netflix should pay for users' access (since they are not only using Netflix) they just pay for their access to the network.
But, regional ISPs (in this case Comcast) started having "problems" where packets from Netflix were dropped, because "Netflix was sending too much data to them", ignoring the fact that that data Netflix was sending was requested by ISP's users who were already paying ISP to do one thing and do it well (i.e. deliver data they requested).
Things were kind of bad for the users (and users couldn't also switch their provider because at most they only had just another option which was equally as bad), until Netflix reached deal with Comcast where they pay Comcast to deliver the content (something that Comcast users are already paying for).
Net neutrality is trying to make sure this kind of manipulation is not allowed.
The thing with Netflix already happened but could easily be translated to other companies. For example (I'm borrowing it from here , I think you should watch it it explains the core issue very well IMO) Microsoft could pay so Bing has always fast access at cost of Google. Don't you want as a user to not have any company dictate you what you can access or not? Similarly those Internet companies also don't want to pay extra on top of what they already are paying. That's their interest. The only companies who would benefit from lack of NN are handful companies that deliver Internet to end users (especially companies like Comcast, TimeWarner/Spectrum, AT&T, Verizon etc) and lack of NN would give them huge power to bully anyone else.
> 1. Massive monopolies which essentially control 95% of all tech (google, facebook, amazon, microsoft, apple, etc)
Facebook and Microsoft are able to leverage network effects. A social network were your friends aren't is not very good independent of the features, similar with Microsoft and the available software. I dont't think, that there is an effect from net neutrality at play here.
This is mostly about the absence of a good micro-payment system, plus the internet forces in many relevant areas everybody to compete with free. (The free newspaper is just a click away, same with youtube etc.)
Is that the case? In cases were you can leverage scale effects certainly, Google has the largest database of websites and as a result the best search engine. Similar for facebook. However, is the relevant metric youtube or is the relevant metric number of people who can live from youtube. Same with Amazon market place and ebay. (Not really arguing either way, I am not really sure what the answer is.)
Compare that to the barriers of entry for a shipyard or hardware manufacturing.
> I think there's still a lot of potential to open up new markets with different policies that would make the internet a much better place for both consumers and entrepreneurs - especially the small guys. I'm just not 100% sure maintaining net-neutrality is the best way to help the little guy and bolster innovation. Anyone have any ideas how we could alleviate some of the above mentioned problems?
Yes, however no net neutrality should benefit the large guys. I can put a video on my server, but I can certainly not negotiate with all the ISPs that they should deliver my video. So in the absence of net neutrality youtube has an additional lever to compete against me. I don't really see any scenario where absence of net neutrality benefits the upstart competition instead of the incumbent.
However, the platforms we see today look in many ways more similar to either infrastructure or states than to competition, so an rather interesting question is, how does one ensure that they are not evil. (To borrow an old Google slogan.)