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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 22, 2014 at 7:28 AM

What would a future without net neutrality look like?

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

Gabriel Campanario / The Seattle Times

The Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has proposed new rules for the Internet that would create “fast lanes” for certain content providers — which could allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to charge companies and websites for faster delivery of their content to consumers. The Internet, as consumers know it, could change drastically.

The Seattle Times opinion pages asked readers to imagine a future Internet with toll booths and fast lanes for content providers. Below are several responses:

Fast lanes would limit competition

Net neutrality is a major issue that should be given serious attention. Internet speeds must remain uniform for all users. Anything else would be noncompetitive and unfair. Based on The Seattle Times’ editorial, I have submitted the following to the Federal Communications Commission:

“I believe and urge that the FCC maintain a neutral Internet whereby all Internet traffic travels at the same, highest possible, speed. It seems patently unfair to permit an entity with a lot of money to buy a faster Internet speed than an entity with less resources that can’t afford to buy a higher Internet speed. …

“The highway system does not give a Mercedes automobile driver an opportunity to buy and use a faster lane than a Volkswagen driver, and it shouldn’t. The same principle should apply to use of the Internet.”

Harold Mozer, Bellevue

Imagine the Internet as a street outside your home

Imagine that FedEx owned the street in front of your house. You order from Amazon.com, but select UPS for delivery. Because FedEx charges a fee to competitors to use its street, delivery costs $5 extra and takes two days longer to arrive. Or, imagine the street in front your house is considered a common service and there are no extraordinary penalties or fees for delivery vehicles.

Similarly, the FCC has ruled that telephone providers are “common carriers” and the carriers may neither inhibit nor charge extraordinary fees for competitors using their phone lines. Today, Internet service providers (ISPs) are delivered in a de facto manner as common carrier services to end users. All content is treated equally, which is called “net neutrality.”

Because there is no real choice for ISPs, the FCC should deem them as common carriers to protect the consumer.

Frank Leeds, Seattle

‘Tolled Internet’ term is wrong

The term “tolled Internet” is misleading. I submit that the FCC proposal is better described as discrimination based on types of traffic. For example, slowing down Skype and Netflix, while speeding up Amazon.com and a cable company’s own content. The motivation for this is, of course, mostly based on financial objectives.

It is also misleading because we already pay a “toll” for Internet access. You and I pay, based on speed, to access the Internet. The large content producers already pay based on bandwidth also, but have their traffic treated the same as everyone else’s.

Tom Eastgard, Bainbridge Island

Would hurt grass roots efforts

I have worked to promote local political organizing through the use of websites and email, which are about all that grass roots groups can afford. But thank God for the availability.

We The People are pretty much frozen out of participation in public dialogue without affordable means that create a chance to be creative and energetic in meeting the challenge. A pay-to-play Internet would wind up capturing the last ground not dominated by big dollar interests.

Stuart Heady, Camano Island

Don’t let profit rule the Internet

The Internet should be a common carrier just like the telephone. I don’t want anybody listening in on what I’m doing online and deciding whether it’s a good or bad thing, or deciding whether I should have fast or slow access. I don’t what somebody else tacking on extra charges, limiting my ability to see or do what I want online.

I don’t trust Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan. Companies do what’s best for them and what will enrich them. They are in business to make a profit, grow and succeed. Policing themselves isn’t generally in their best interest.

Kate Osterfeld, Bellevue

The Internet costs too much already

Let’s be honest for a minute: One of the biggest problems in this country is greed.

If there is a way to force your wallet open, someone will find it. I think most people feel access to the Internet already costs too much. If Internet service providers (ISPs) try to charge more for faster service for some content, you can bet it would be set up so the ISP passes on the cost. Increased costs are always paid by consumers.

It would be an ethical first if someone actually protected consumers from another example of corporate greed. I have decent Internet speed now, although I think I pay too much for it. I wouldn’t like to pay more and get less just so someone willing to pay more would get bandwidth priority.

Patrick Fayerweather, Woodinville

Comments | More in Internet | Topics: fast lanes, Federal Communications Commission, net neutrality

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The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


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