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Liam Kampsen

Liz Martell


22 April 2018

Is Net Neutrality the Best Option?

Nearly all Americans utilize the internet every day, and without it many would be lost in

today’s fast paced world. Life in America without internet simply is not realistic for many

citizens. According to David Farber in his article “The Wrong Fix,” in 2015 the Federal

Communications Commission instilled its “Open Internet Order,” a decree that Internet Service

Providers could not block or delay content and could not discriminate among content providers –

no ISP would be allowed to enable content providers to pay for priority delivery of their traffic,

and ISP’s could not prioritize their own content over competitors (10). The 2015 Open Internet

Order created this system – what is now called “Net Neutrality.” Since so many Americans use

the internet daily, they should want to protect it from decisions made by powerful organizations

like the Federal Communications Commission and their decisions which may slow its

development. To have the most efficient and powerful internet service, citizens should not allow

the FCC to make heavy-handed orders that limit development and expansion of the web.

In December of 2017, the FCC voted to repeal the Net Neutrality rules put into place in

2015, but many internet rights groups have begun campaigns to encourage American citizens to

call their representatives and attempt to convince them to put the 2015 Open Internet Order back

into effect. Congressman Eric Schneiderman and his colleagues have stated, “We’re going to

challenge [the FCC’s decision] in court, we hope to have this rolled back.” (The FCC’s Net

Neutrality Decision). Many citizens in positions of power have taken to this fight against the
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repeal of net neutrality, but they may be ill-informed about the results of a regulation-bound

internet, and what constraints net neutrality would place on the internet.

For the FCC to attempt to remove all prioritization to continue with a “free internet” is a

poorly thought out concept, as the internet was never operating by a system of this sort in the

first place. Douglas Has, author of "The Never-Was-Neutral Net and Why Informed End Users

Can End the Net Neutrality Debates,” suggests many net neutrality supporters are worried about

its demise causing a monopolization of service, threatening the balance of service provided at

this time. “Vertical Foreclosure Theory” is just that- the idea that large broadband providers like

Cox, AOL, and CIX may exert pressure onto content makers to create a new income flow to the

ISP’s in dominant control of American Internet (1583).

Net Neutrality supporters have continued to argue over time that monopoly ISP

companies will utilize their power to take control of the internet, but this has not happened

despite their ability to. Has adds to this by saying that these same companies net neutrality

supporters are worried about have more recently pledged not to monopolize their positions on the

internet and these promises have continued to hold true to this day (1602). Mitchell Shaw truly

finalizes this idea in his statement that, “The Promise that net neutrality would not regulate

content was a lie. By November 2015, it was already apparent that politically conservative

websites could find themselves in the cross hairs of censorship” (43). Not only do citizens not

need to worry about monopolized ISP’s, but they should also recognize that the concept of net

neutrality being “taken away” is a hard lie.

The author of “Keep the Internet Fair” in Scientific American compares the single toll

bridge connecting the island city of Key Biscayne to Florida to what the internet would be like

lacking Net Neutrality. They point out that currently, it is a flat rate for each class of vehicle to
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pass over the bridge – the neutral net. The author worries that owners of this bridge could instead

begin to “charge a toll based not on the size of a vehicle but on the cargo it was carrying.” By

this system, owners of the bridge could show bias to some companies and control all aspects of

the economy and what the island has access to (12). While this article is analogous to net

neutrality, showing the bridge as a line that is limited to what content can be delivered to the

users, or island-dwellers, this concept is quickly proven wrong by Aaron Brauer-Rieke in his

article. Brauer-Rieke explains that the internet is not a pipe that simply sends along data but has

always prioritized high traffic content, or content that is currently being accessed the most. He

emphasizes that the fear of internet fast lanes is irrational as people are already living with

internet run on that exact system (598).

Even if one believes that the net is and always has been neutral, they should also be

aware of the greater threats the internet faces. Vishal Misra suggests that Zero Rating of data is

more of a threat to users than network neutrality or lack there-of. Zero Rating is the

implementation of free content through certain websites while others must be paid for. Misra

emphasizes that if provided with one social network for free, and another with more features but

one that cost money, one would be more inclined to stick with the original simply for the sake of

cost effectiveness (27). Jessica A. Hollis adds in her article, “Testing the Bounds of Net

Neutrality with Zero-Rating Practices” that zero-rated data was first introduced in mobile data

plans as “fixed-wire broadband plans have typically charged tiered pricing based on speed rather

than data” (600). Zero rating can stifle innovation and expansion outside of a base market. This

is more of a monopolization threat to customers than prioritization of services which are already

popular like Netflix, YouTube, and Facebook- the exact worry many who are in support of Net

Neutrality is the same threat that Net Neutrality cannot protect users from (27). American’s
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should take a step back to consider: zero-rated content completely undermines Net Neutrality

without violating any of its rules, it is a grey area that should be confronted before the Net

Neutrality debate continues.

Regardless of the status of the internet, those in charge of regulating it up until now and

heading into the future, the FCC, are being too heavy-handed with their rule-making. The

internet is not a fully developed twentieth century utility and should be allowed to continue to

develop until it can be considered as such. One prominent name that arises in the Net Neutrality

debate is that of former FCC Commissioner, now head of the FCC, Ajit Pai. In the 2015

“Wrecking the Internet to Save It? The FCC's Net Neutrality Rule” government hearing, Ajit Pai

voiced his thoughts on the 2015 Open Internet Order. Pai asserted that the order is founded on

the idea of protecting an open internet from over-regulation, but in an effort to protect the

internet, the FCC has inadvertently created regulations that over-protect it (qtd. in United States

[14]). Pai remarks that the open internet order “isn’t narrowly tailored to solve even the

hypothetical net neutrality problem.” Pai continues to say that by targeting ISP’s exclusively the

FCC is only encompassing one portion of the giant internet network, and this will strictly limit

development as ISP’s provide the basis for internet networks to build upon (qtd. in United States


As noted by George Anders in his work “The Right way to Fix the Internet”, in 2012,

Mung Chiang, professor of electrical engineering at Princeton suggested an alternative method to

current internet management practices-increased pricing for data when it is at it’s peak periods of

use, and lower rates during slack periods. Chiang soon formed a company known as DataMi to

evaluate the trends of mobile data usage and adjust pricing accordingly (qtd. in Anders, [29]).

The service would allow users to put off non-urgent tasks to when data would be cheaper, and
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only utilize data services for the most important data consuming tasks while the services were

congested (qtd. in Anders, [29]). This service optimized internet traffic by reducing redundant

traffic on networks and increasing rates to reduce overall traffic to those who just needed it the

most. Only two years after its creation, DataMi had already vanished. In early testing, “smart

data pricing delivered everything that DataMi’s patents predicted” and customers were happy

with the overall results, but politics got in the way. The Net Neutrality debate sparked in full

force in the year of 2015 with the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which immediately put an end to

the progress DataMi had made on creating a new data-pricing system (qtd. in Anders [30]). Had

the FCC not introduced this bill, users could have access to much more fairly priced internet

rates, and internet congestion would be at an all time low based on the results of the early testing

of DataMi’s service. These limitations prevented the internet from accelerating to a more

efficient system on par with other fully developed utilities. If the FCC continues to treat the

internet like any other fully developed twentieth century utility, it will stifle technologic

development and innovations, putting American users at a disadvantage to those accessing the

internet from other countries.

Pierre Larouche discusses what the struggle with Net Neutrality in Europe as opposed to

the US in his article “The Network Neutrality Debate Hits Europe.” He suggests that the primary

difference between Europe and the U.S. is that European lawmakers have adopted a “general

principle that end users should be able to access and distribute any lawful content and use any

lawful applications and/or services of their choice . . . and [require] ISP’s to inform their users of

any limitations imposed on that right” (24). This differs from the United States, where ISP’s are

not allowed to limit users on any end through net neutrality. While one might suggest net

neutrality puts users in a better situation via this, Larouche goes on to say that overall the internet
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simply is not developed enough for it to have experienced any quality of service infractions, and

European government has opted to allow it to expand accordingly until such an infraction occurs,

at which point it will step in to restore the original quality of service and instill regulations to

prevent the same from happening again (24). This familiar concept was echoed in the Douglas

Has article “The Never-Was-Neutral Net and Why Informed End Users Can End the Net

Neutrality Debates” mentioned earlier. Prior to enforcing strong regulations over the internet,

perhaps internet ambassadors should first take time to develop the internet further.

Some scholars argue that the internet in its current state is not the best option for

worldwide connectivity. The author of “Debating the Net Neutrality Issue” in the July 2006 issue

of InfoWorld interviewed Bill McCloskey, director media relations at BellSouth and Jon Taplin,

a professor at Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California,

over their thoughts on Net Neutrality. With their background in internet services and

communications management, they both hold valuable points of view on the status of the

internet. The author asked McCloskey “could there be advantages to a tiered Internet Model?”

[like that which mobile phone services provide] to which McCloskey suggests that startup

companies could utilize prioritized internet traffic lanes as a method of advertising to the larger

public for a short period of time, before reverting to average internet delivery rates for their

service (12). He claims this might give them the boost to a full audience that many have

suggested they would miss entirely due to the higher fees required at any time under Net

Neutrality. Jon Taplin agrees with McCloskey, saying, “I think there should be tiered pricing . . .

[where] the sites themselves . . . should pay an extra tax for getting in the fast lane” (12). Taplin

adds that the current dominant internet carriers should reserve some internet traffic space for any
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and all websites, not just paid providers of content (13). While McCloskey and Taplin agree that

the internet should make space for lower-income providers of content.

The author of “Can We Reinvent the Internet?” Viktor Mayer-Schönberger suggests that

rather than sticking to the pre-existing confines of the already well-established internet, and

fighting over the specifics of regulating it, perhaps we should instead build a new internet to

allow innovators like those who created Apple and IBM to expand more freely (396). He

emphasizes that the ability to connect through the current internet is allowing more pockets of

innovation to emerge throughout the world, but the current internet model may “constrain(s) the

ability of software coders to innovate and build the code we need” (397). With the internet being

used by as many people daily as it is already, it is important that the internet model we operate

on is designed to foster innovation and fast growth, to enable it to support the ever-growing

needs of its massive userbase.

Because nearly every American utilizes the internet every day, it has become an essential

part of today’s fast paced world. Life in America without internet is simply unrealistic for most

citizens, so it must not be limited by over-regulation, lest its current abilities will slip away from

its users. To allow the FCC to attempt to remove all prioritization to “continue with a free

internet” is simply a foolish concept, as the internet was never operating on that system in the

first place. The FCC was acting too heavy-handed with their rule-making in 2015, limiting the

internet from its full potential by treating it like a twentieth century utility. Although many may

believe that the internet should be either reworked or changed entirely, the primary concern of

consumers should be to regulate the internet in a way that fosters innovation and fast growth.

The internet should not be regulated at all until quality of service infractions impact users

negatively. To have the most efficient and powerful internet service, citizens must fight the FCC
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in its efforts to make orders that limit development and expansions of today’s most valuable

utility. Those concerned about the internet and its ability to function in a consumer-friendly way

should voice their objections to their local government representatives. Their numbers can be

found at Citizens can also urge members of the Federal Communications

Commission not to reenact the Open Internet Order in future votes by calling 1-888-225-5322

and voicing their concerns now.

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Works Cited

Anders, George. "The Right Way to Fix the Internet." MIT Technology Review, vol. 117, no. 6,

Nov./Dec. 2014, pp. 28-34. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=101619295&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 11 Apr. 2018.

Brauer-Rieke, Aaron K. "The FCC Tackles Net Neutrality: Agency Jurisdiction and the Comcast

Order." Berkeley Technology Law Journal, vol. 24, no. 1, 2009 Annual Review, pp. 598-

599, 614-615. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=44572662&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 6 Mar. 2018.

"Debating the Net Neutrality Issue." Infoworld, vol. 28, no. 28, 10 July 2006, pp. 12-13.


&db=syh&AN=21559809&site=ehost-live. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.

Farber, David. "The Wrong Fix." MIT Technology Review, vol. 117, no. 6, Nov./Dec. 2014, p.

10. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=101619284&site=ehost-live. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.

Has, Douglas A. "The Never-Was-Neutral Net and Why Informed End Users Can End the Net

Neutrality Debates." Berkeley Technology Law Journal, vol. 22, no. 4, Fall 2007, pp.

1597-1602. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=32159414&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

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Hollis, Jessica A. "Testing the Bounds of Net Neutrality with Zero-Rating Practices." Berkeley

Technology Law Journal, vol. 32, 2017 Annual Review, pp. 599-602. EBSCOhost,

doi:10.15779/Z38J38KH5F. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

"Keep the Internet Fair." Scientific American, vol. 304, no. 3, Mar. 2011, p. 12. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=58049813&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 8 Mar. 2018.

Larouche, Pierre. "The Network Neutrality Debate Hits Europe." Communications of the ACM,

vol. 52, no. 5, May 2009, pp. 22-24. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=39362998&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.

Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor. "Can We Reinvent the Internet?" Science, vol. 325, no. 5939, 24

July 2009, pp. 396-397. EBSCOhost,

&db=syh&AN=43861603&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.

Misra, Vishal. "Inside Risks Routing Money, Not Packets." Communications of the ACM, vol.

58, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 27. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1145/2753120. Accessed 15 Mar. 2018.

“N.Y. Attorney General: The FCC's Net Neutrality Decision Didn't Follow Rulemaking

Procedures.” Futurism, 19 Dec. 2017,

neutrality/. Accessed 22 Apr. 2018.

Shaw, C. Mitchell. "Net Neutrality Nonsense." New American (08856540), vol. 34, no. 2, 22 Jan.

2018, pp. 42-43. EBSCOhost,

&db=a9h&AN=127232918&login.asp&site=ehost-live. Accessed 26 Mar. 2018.

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United States. Wrecking the Internet to Save It? The FCC's Net Neutrality Rule: Hearing Before

the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourteenth

Congress, First Session, March 25, 2015. Washington: US Government Publishing

Office, 2015. Pp. 14-19, 48-49.