Net Neutrality Is Related To Net Profitability

Dec 01, 2010

FCC Chief Genachowski gave a speech today stating that he will push for a vote on “Preserving Internet Freedom & Openness” with the five Commissioners on December 21st. It’s a given that Genachowski is for the measure, and the other four appear to be split 2-2 even before reading the proposed document.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality in its basic form demands no restrictions:

  • on content, sites,
  • or platforms,
  • or kinds of equipment that may be attached,
  • or on the modes of communication allowed

Isn’t The Internet Already Net-Neutral?

Well, certainly not in China when you can’t get to But here in the U.S.A. we also have problems of non-Net Neutrality. For instance, Comcast has been accused of “slowing down” traffic or charging for Video-On-Demand web sites that Comcast Users stream from. So, even in America, the Internet isn’t ALWAYS equal.

Why Would Comcast Care?

It’s two fold, really. First, Comcast would prefer that the customer chose their VOD content rather than Netflix, Amazon, etc. But the second reason is more important in my opinion: Bandwidth. It takes a 1 Meg Broadband account one and a half hours to download a movie.

For every customer that is downloading a movie from Comcast’s servers…Comcast has no additional costs. But if that download is from a server on the Internet, then Comcast has to pay for the capacity to provide a 1-Megabit stream for each customer who is simultaneously downloading. Here in Poplar Bluff, bandwidth TO THE Internet costs about $70/megabit.

A Flushing Legend From My Childhood

When I was young, my father would let me stay up and watch the monologue of Johnny Carson before I went to bed. One night, Johnny laughed that everyone during the commercial break should go flush their toilets and see if it would mess with the water table. I did! I don’t know if it affected the water supply across the country…but looking back that was not very Green!

In the electronic world it’s not possible for everyone to use their service at the same time. For instance, phones lines: If everyone that had a phone picked it up to call at the same time ONLY 1 out of every five people would get a dial-tone. Same with cell phones if everyone tries to call at the same time. We all know that Brown-outs are when too many people are using too much electricity.

The Internet is similar to the Electric grid: if everyone tried to download something at the same time…no one would get anything because of that demand (an Internet brown-out). And therein lies the problem: the business model for broadband Internet begins to break down when heavy streaming is involved.

I know of several homes that dropped their “Cable” service and just use the Internet. Consider a home that has five computers and five TVs with Netflix players attached. That’s a LOT of data.

So Should The FCC Pass This Net Neutrality Regulation?

In his speech, FCC Chief Genachowski said that he would include a portion for “usage-based” provision of services. One reporter has speculated that means ISPs could charge one price for surfing & email accounts but charge another price for streaming & peer-to-peer type accounts. He doesn’t say enough about it for me to even comment on.

There are too many variables right now and I am squarely in the middle on this one because I see and agree with points from both sides. I live by the philosophy:

If you are not 100% sold on something, don’t add more government.

For now, I’ll stick with the Status Quo on this one and say NO to the FCC Chief’s newest attempt at Net Neutrality.


How Long Does It Take To Download a Movie?

The following table was extracted from

Connection speed
Transfer speed
7 KB/s
16 KB/s
32 KB/s
64 KB/s
128 KB/s
256 KB/s
1.25 MB/s
Transfer time
28 hours, 27 mins
12 hours, 27 mins
6 hours, 13 mins
3 hours, 7 mins
1 hours, 33 mins
47 mins
12 mins