Net neutrality has brought about the intense debate over the recent past. This has mainly been attributed to changes proposed by internet providers. Essentially, net neutrality means the provision of a level playing field for all websites. In essence, it ensures that different content applications are not discriminated against. All along, subscribers (internet users) have had the advantage of accessing almost everything they want freely.
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Moreover, they have been able to utilize different kinds of features on the internet without any problem. However, it is quite necessary to note that this freedom has mainly been attributed to net neutrality. This is mainly because it governs the principles that regulate an open and free internet. Over, the years, these regulations have enabled internet subscribers to access content freely on a level playing field for all websites.
However, this is about to change or at least, may not last long due to the proposals intended by internet service providers. These proposals, if implemented would bring about discrimination of websites and content applications. Also, it would restrict open and free access to these contents, a virtue that was the main driver for its introduction in the first place. In this regard, several authors and stakeholders have had varying views on the same. This paper will explore these views, their similarities and differences as well as take a position after a thorough analysis of the same (Geist, 2011, p. 1).
Net neutrality has played a big role in human capacity development. Moreover, it has enabled open and free access to different features of the internet. However, this is under scrutiny as internet service providers plan to introduce discriminating measures on internet access. Net neutrality has improved features like outsourcing, service provision through eGovernment, electronic voting systems, open systems, and terrorist database. Moreover, it has globalized the world and improved the flow of information from one part of the world to another.
These are great opportunities that have led to an innovative world as well as eCommerce, which has revolutionized the internet. All these developments, among others, stand to lose heavily in case these discriminative measures are implemented. It has been noted with great concern that apart from restrictions proposed by the Congress, multinational cable, as well as telephone companies, plan to charge operators and application provides for smooth access to the internet.
This is intended to bring about tier in access speeds to web content. Ultimately, content operators and providers will transfer these costs to the common citizens who will grapple with increased charges in addition to recession in a world that continues to contend with poverty. This is set to bring about three main problems namely, discrimination, double-doping and stifling innovation, among others. Several stakeholders and activists have stepped up this debate to defuse any issues that would recuperate these problems (The Free Press Action Fund, 2012, p. 1).
Recent revelations on restrictions to web access through the introduction of a two-tier system have increased fears on the future of the internet. The two-tier system would bring about discrimination and preferential treatment given to companies that can afford faster transmissions. In the current state, all websites can be accessed equally and openly without preference based on speeds of transmission. However, this was challenged through Federal appeal in April 2010.
The authority of (FCC) Federal communication commission was under scrutiny concerning its regulation of broadband service. It is therefore very crucial that the issues mentioned above are verified for validity to come up with a course of action. These proposals are inclined towards increasing the plight of the poor as well as reducing advancement in capacity development and technology. This was followed by an agreement to create a two tier-based internet access system on December 21 of the same year.
It is quite important to note that Republicans were reluctant to vote on this motion although democrats overpowered them. These rules were dubbed as net semi-neutrality. Moreover, restriction on content accessed was also an issue as the government proposed to increase restrictions. As if this was not enough, the congress proposed to restrict free access to contents such as those in YouTube and wiki, among others.
It can, therefore, be proved that internet access is set to embrace even more changes as people grapple with the economic recession. In essence, these problems are real and could set in if little is done to control them. One issue that would result from these restrictions is the discrimination of websites. This would defy the fundamental ideas behind the inception of the internet. This will ensure that bloggers cannot reach their audience as other companies would.
Moreover, another issue that would arise is increased charges due to competition for faster transmission. This would result in double-dipping, which is unwise for a community that is grappling with economic fears. Another problem that would arise is stifled innovation because fewer people would be able to afford internet access; hence, economic hurdles in development will increase. In essence, these problems are real, as they would influence the global economy and development negatively (Key Issues: Network Neutrality, 2012, p. 1).
Issues as proposed by different authors
Different people have issued their thought on net neutrality. They include Vincent Cerf, Tim Lee and Bob Kahn, among others. For instance, Vincent and his counterpart Tim have argued in favor of net neutrality. In their defense, they cite the level playing field as the reason for their decision. In this regard, they believe that continued freedom of access to the internet will foster human capacity development.
They, therefore, fault any proposal to change this system, as it will amount to several issues. In the process, several issues arise over net neutrality. These are categorized in two namely, proponents and opponents. The companies include Cogent Communications, Vonage, Microsoft, and Yahoo! among others. Moreover, Individuals who have expressed issues in favor of net neutrality include Vinton, Tim, Lawrence Lessig, David Reed, Barack Obama, Steve Wozniak, Ben Scott, and Susan Crawford, among others.
In their defense, they cite issues such as data control, digital rights and freedom, competition and innovation, discrimination, double-dipping, preservation of data standards, prevention of pseudo-services and the end-to-end principle, among others. Control of data has been a major issue in net neutrality as proponents of net neutrality accuse cable companies of trying to act as gatekeepers of websites.
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This has developed a major debate and accusations on free access to internet resources without restrictions and alteration of speeds. In fact, according to Cerf, the internet was designed without gatekeepers and should, therefore, be accessed freely. Another issue that arises from proponents is digital rights and freedoms. In this regard, Cerf says that the monopolization of the internet would repress the very principles that made it succeed. Moreover, according to Lessig, monopolization of the internet would repress the diversity of private information sources as well as stifle novel and innovative web content (2006).
These sentiments are shared by Tim, who believes the content gatekeepers would create an unfair model of business. In essence, he believes that this will be discriminating against other internet services. It is also in this regard that proponents believe that the preservation of internet standards will not be attained if such proposals are adopted. In essence, they believe that fundamental internet standards would be jeopardized.
Further to that, Alok Bhardwaj, a proponent of net neutrality argues that violation of net neutrality would bring about leveraging of service quality. In essence, this means that some people will have slowed connections while others, faster connections. This could be intended to cause that offered low-quality service to pay for faster connections thereby authenticating leveraging as a means employed in internet services.
On the other hand, there are several opponents to net neutrality. Most of these companies are hardware and cable companies that deal with telecommunications. To push their interests, the companies created a website known as the hands of the internet to expand on their arguments.
Pro-market groups that advocate against net neutrality fueled this. Several prominent individuals have also aired their opposition to net neutrality. They include Robert Pepper of Cisco Systems, Bob Kahn and David Farber, among others. In their defense, they cite innovation as one of the reasons for their opposition to net neutrality. Farber, on the other hand, concurs that the internet requires a complete makeover. However, he is slightly critical of the current measures employed by the FCC.
Some of those who oppose net neutrality argue that it is a violation of the property rights of ISPs (internet service providers). To validate this thought, they argue that the ISP makes and own access to these services, which makes it right for them to regulate access. In essence, they argue that net neutrality violates property rights. To achieve this, they propose a tiered form of service to improve the quality of service.
Moreover, companies argue that it would be difficult to improve investment on the internet through the application of fiber optics without increasing internet charges. In essence, they argue that net neutrality decreases the chances of innovation and investment on the internet. Another argument brought about by those who oppose net neutrality is that the playing ground is already affected and it favors other players than the rest. In this sense, they say that net neutrality does not offer the best option and hence requires to be changed.
Another issue that has risen over net neutrality is on the availability of bandwidth. Opponents of net neutrality argue that applications such as video streaming and uploads utilize large bandwidths which require high maintenance costs. In this regard, they believe that this should justify the need to charge these applications. Of great concern to these groups of companies is the amount of bandwidth utilized by companies such as MySpace, YouTube, among others. These, among other arguments, have accrued over the years as stakeholders look for a platform for improving internet service quality and provision. It is also very important to note that some authors have dismissed both arguments citing them as misleading and invalid. These include comments from Jeff Birnbaum of Washington post as well as Andy Kessler, among others.
From the given arguments, it can be noted that there exist several issues with validity. These include data discrimination, the end-to-end principle, and quality of service. Others include over-provision, traffic shaping, double-dipping, stifled innovation and pricing models. These problems are real and require addressing to improve access to the internet. In considering possible solutions, it is very important to take into consideration the effects of these issues on access to the internet and net neutrality.
In this regard, different authors, irrespective of their arguments, have proposed several solutions. For instance, even though Tim favors the current situation known as net neutrality, he believes that it is not completely true that the field is level for all players. Moreover, he believes that more needs to be done to improve the quality of service. This could include applying a few measures such as controlling the amount of data utilized by a given company.
This would help in allowing small-scale internet subscribers to play an important role in innovation and development. At the same time, it would enable large-scale subscribers to pay for their services in a regulated manner. This would work to improve service delivery as well as allow small innovators to play a role in internet development. This is very important because it will work to address the main issues raised in these arguments. For instance, pricing models has risen as one of the main issues as internet service provides try to work on the best price method for fairness.
To address this conclusively, all stakeholders should be taken into consideration such as the role internet in society. When this is considered, other issues may take backstage and property rights would remain as the main issue. When it comes to property rights, it is very important to note that some authors have accepted that their information is shared freely on the internet. Moreover, companies that stream videos usually pay artists or market them. However, this can be the sole responsibility of individual parties to establish their grounds of argument. Meanwhile, those who accept the principles of net neutrality should be allowed to do so to improve communication and participation in the development of the world’s economy.
Analysis of the solutions
Both the proponents and opponents of net neutrality have proposed several solutions. Moreover, even those who are neutral in this subject have proposed their solutions to the same. Most proponents of net neutrality propose that the system remains as it is. However, a few numbers of them such as Tim, among others favor the current situation but do not believe it is the best. In essence, they believe that some advancement can be made to provide quality services at good prices.
Still, other proponents believe that net neutrality is the best option although they feel that large companies that use up big bandwidths need to be charged while those that use small bandwidth can be allowed to continue in its current form. These arguments vary although they point to one main issue; pricing model should be reviewed to benefit the internet service providers too. On the other hand, they do not believe in protecting the property rights of internet service providers because this would lead to more damages than expected. In essence, most of the proponents overlook property rights and investment opportunities proposed by internet service providers.
On the other hand, opponents of net neutrality value property rights and investment more than freedom and openness of internet services. In this quest to protect service quality, they find themselves on the edge when it comes to freedom and the initial inception ideas of internet access. Essentially, both arguments hold water even though very little can be done to negate any of them since it will eventually affect the quality of service. This is mainly because effective research needs to be done to establish the best method for addressing both issues without compromising the inception concepts of the internet. Moreover, considerations should also be given to the quality of service provided to advance in the development of the internet.
The issues brought up for and against net neutrality have several common points. For instance, they both fight for the betterment of internet service provision. Similarities that can be observed from these issues include the fact that they agree with the need to improve the quality of service. In this regard, they both agree that the quality of service needs to be maintained at all costs. Another issue of convergence to both sides is pricing models, this is a common issue although they differ on ways of implementing change for the betterment of quality.
Another issue of common interest to both parties is traffic shaping. In this regard, they argue that provisions should be made to ensure that performance is guaranteed and optimized. Also, they concur that the usability of bandwidth should also be increased to improve speeds of access. It is also quite necessary to note that some proponents of net neutrality agree with their opponents on the need to review charges based on bundle usage although the majority of net neutrality proponents do not share this point. Generally, it is necessary to know that most of these issues stand out as the main points of division (Network Neutrality: What’s Network Neutrality? 2012, p. 1).
Differences in these issues are paramount. Most authors differ on ways of addressing common as well as diverse issues raised. In the process, several diverse issues have been raised to prove these points. The first one tackles data discrimination. While proponents of net neutrality believe that increased charges /restrictions will violate the right to access the internet freely as well as affect free communication, opponents of the same belief that discrimination exists already and therefore needs to be mitigated.
Again, proponents of net neutrality believe that removal of this freedom would stifle innovation, especially among small-scale investors/innovators. On the other hand, opponents of net neutrality believe that maintaining this situation will also stifle innovation. This is mainly because the proponents think that small-scale innovators would be locked out of access to free internet services. On the other hand, opponents think that high-level innovations would also be impeded due to poor quality of service and fewer funds.
Other differences between these stakeholders cover investment opportunities. For instance, proponents of net neutrality believe that a level playing field offers all players equal opportunity to invest. On the other hand, opponents of net neutrality argue that it limits the amount of investment that can be placed on the development of internet access. Also, it is important to note that other differences lie mainly in economic systems. For instance, proponents argue that most people cannot afford additional costs that may be incurred in case changes are made. On the other hand, opponents argue that low charges would decrease opportunities for expansion.
Net neutrality commands several advantages. These range from affordability, accessibility, and reliability, among others. Net neutrality has enabled the free sharing of data throughout the world. It has worked to improve capacity development throughout the world. Also, free access has enabled access to the internet to poor peoples of the world. Moreover, it provides the equal opportunity of access to everyone throughout the world. It is also quite necessary to note that the level playing field enables upcoming innovators to develop their skills through a shared platform. Another advantage attributed to net neutrality includes its ability to allow the sharing of information, which helps to improve the flow of information.
Its free and open characteristics enable net neutrality to provide valuable information at a cheaper price. Innovation is an important part of development in technology, providing internet access at low prices helps to reach more potential innovators who contribute to the development of technology. Net neutrality is important in ensuring freedom of expression and the use of web content. Moreover, it strengthens the bond between families as they can reach one another through the websites freely. Net neutrality is also very essential as it enables large bundles of content to be uploaded and shared without increased cost (Schmidt, 2006, p. 1).
As much as net neutrality commands several advantages, it also has its negative attributes. One of the disadvantages majors on quality of service. This is mainly because of the low cost of services, which ultimately impede the quality of service. Another disadvantage of net neutrality is its ability to be abused by intruders who post improper contents that violate ethics. This is highly likely to impede the protection of data because costs incurred are limited. Similarly, it is also important to note that net neutrality has the propensity to reduce the investment ability of industrial players. Moreover, large companies use big bandwidths, which slow network connections as opposed to small businesses.
Net neutrality has brought about several arguments over its validity as a model for internet service provision. Net neutrality has brought about free access to the internet throughout the world. This is important in enabling access from both towns and remote areas of the world. Moreover, it reaches the maximum number of people thereby improving cultural exchange.
As can be noted above, net neutrality has several advantages that have enabled it to be utilized to date. However, it is also important to note that this has happened at the expense of internet service providers. For one, their property rights are violated in that they are not allowed to charge a considerable amount of money on their services. It is therefore very clear that both sides of the debate have valid arguments over their proposals for a course of action. Nonetheless, it is also necessary to note those who are neither for net neutrality nor against it.
According to them, they are not satisfied with the capability of net neutrality although are reluctant to change. These complaints are therefore real and demand handling to enhance the usage of the web effectively. Moreover, it is necessary to come up with achievable remedies for resolving these issues. Furthermore, it is very important to consider the effects of these issues on access to the World Wide Web as this will enable stakeholders to conduct conclusive studies on solutions to these issues.
In this regard, diversity is very important, it should be considered when deciding on the best solution. Even though net neutrality opens the opportunity to everyone, its usage is diverse and complex. For instance, large companies use large bandwidths as compared to their small counterparts. This slows down speeds of data transmission and eventually leads to poor quality of service. Therefore, something needs to be done on the pricing model to address this issue and thereby enhance the quality of service (Net Neutrality: Net Neutrality Needs Our Protection, 2012, p. 1).
Interestingly, both parties have at least one or two valid arguments over their decisions. For instance, proponents of net neutrality cite data discrimination, double-dipping and stifled innovation, among others as their points of argument. On the other hand, opponents cite investment, innovation, and quality of service, among others as reasons for their decision.
In essence, it is clear that both parties deserve to be heard and action is taken to appease both parties as well as produce quality results. Among the solutions proposed, include semi net neutrality, which includes fewer restrictions and charges. Also, others have proposed overhaul of the whole system, replacing net neutrality with prioritization as well as increasing charges. Still, others have recommended that the current system continue. However, it is important to note that FCC approved changes on net neutrality and this shows that internet service providers are very serious about these issues.
In this regard, it is necessary to compromise on both grounds to provide quality service at an affordable rate. To achieve this, it would be essential that internet access is categorized into three-tier groups namely, home-based, small-scale and large-scale tiers. This would enable home-based (non-commercial) users to be offered free access to the internet.
On the other hand, commercial users should be charged by the size of their businesses. This would enable businesses to have quality services based on their needs. Sometimes home-based users access large bundles that do not offer the efficiency of service. This would be mitigated by implementing the three-tier pricing-model. This would also help in improving the quality of service as well as speed according to the requirements of clients. Moreover, internet service providers would have enough money to invest in improving network infrastructure (Wu, 2007, p. 1).
Net neutrality is a very important element in internet access. This is mainly because it contains the principles that guide internet access. In this regard, net neutrality has enabled everyone from every part of the world to access the internet freely. However, this has not pleased internet service providers who own internet access services. In this regard, they have proposed and tried to implement strategies that would eliminate net neutrality to gain both financially as well as in the quality of service. In this sense, they expected to implement a form of service in which prioritization is used and the flow of information is controlled.
These proposals have brought about huge debates on the issues with proponents citing discrimination, double-dipping and stifling of innovation as their points of argument. On the other hand, opponents insist that to provide quality service, prioritization is required. Moreover, net neutrality infringes on their rights to control what they own legally. However, in considering both cases, it is important to compromise some ground for there to be a success. In this regard, it would be wise if internet access were categorized into three tiers, in which home users are given services freely while commercial uses pay. Moreover, commercial users should be divided into two groups depending on the size of the online business. This would enable the implementation of a stable pricing model that would benefit all stakeholders (Lessig & McChesney, 2006, p. 1).
Net neutrality is very significant in the modern world. This is mainly because it enables everyone to have free access to the internet. However, several proposals have been made on its modification into a semi neutrality system. This has drawn huge criticism from stakeholders who believe the internet was initiated with a noble idea of sharing. In this regard, they believe that net neutrality should continue. Nonetheless, to reach common ground, both sides must compromise as proposed above to improve on the quality of service (Hart, 2007, p. 750).
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