Don’t kid yourself that the issue here is “censoring” the Web. The issue is Internet survival. AT&T talks about the coming Multimedia Explosion as new forms of video traffic rapidly overtake Web-surfing, file transfer and email as the prime users of backbone capacity. Literally, “net neutrality” would result in an increasingly unreliable Internet as more and more high-bandwidth applications contest for space on networks that nobody would have an incentive to expand.
The real issue is where will the big bucks come from to create an Internet capable of handling the services now envisioned, let alone those not yet dreamed up. BellSouth’s Chief Architect Henry Kafka told an audience in March that a typical broadband user today consumes about two gigabytes of data a month, at a network cost of $1. Once TV has gone high-definition and on-demand, a typical user will consume about 1,120 gigabytes a month at a cost of $560 (that’s in addition to the administrative, sales and service costs that today make up the lion’s share of the user’s bill). “Clearly that’s not what the average user is going to pay per month for their video service,” Mr. Kafka said. “That’s why we need help.”
Think back to the beginnings of radio and TV: Those business models would never have worked if consumers had had to foot the bill directly for programming. It’s clear today that giving consumers the kind of Internet that will support high-definition video and gaming will require the bill to be shared by companies with a stake in putting the new services in front of consumers.
Amen, brothers and sisters, and a tip of the hat to Turk for this fine link.