Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Do you care about Net Neutrality? You should.


What's the big hoopla about Net Neutrality? Why should you care?

Well, you should. It means less choice and less competition, especially in our world (internet startups).

It's very likely that ClickCaster, a podcasting company based in Boulder, CO. would not exist if we had to pay 'extra' fee's beyond the costs we currently pay to provide our service. Frankly, if low cost high speed bandwidth hadn't been available when we started ClickCaster... well, we simply wouldn't have started it.

The low (relative) cost of bandwidth, and the fact that we're on a level playing field with Apple’s iTunes, Google, Yahoo and Comcast (as far as the internet is concerned) is what enabled us to start the company.

Take that away, add additional costs to getting the company started, and it's possible and even likely we just wouldn't have done it at all.

Here's a quick overview of something in USA Today that sums it up nicely:

  • Internet Fast Lane Marginalizes Smaller Web Firms
  • USA Today
  • USA Today spoke with several small businesses about the possible effects of an Internet fast lane on their business. Many of these companies are helping lead the push for "net neutrality" laws, which received a major blow a few weeks ago as one of many bills defending net neutrality was struck down by the House of Representatives. Internet service is currently "neutral" in most instances, meaning that content providers don't have to pay extra if their video service sucks up more bandwidth than, say, a blog. This is because network owners deliver information over their pipes to users' computers at the same speeds. If lawmakers fail to pass legislation guaranteeing network neutrality, that could all change--soon. "That would be a disaster for little companies like ours," a CEO of an online video startup told USA Today. The Web, the so-called "Great Equalizer," would no longer be equal for companies that can't afford to pay for faster delivery of their content. This would skew heavily in favor of larger companies like Google, because they could--however reluctantly--afford to pay these surcharges. But it might discourage them from spending on R&D in bandwidth-heavy areas like broadband video. The future of entertainment on the Web depends on faster speeds, and content providers agree that a "fast lane" would simply stymie competition--to the detriment of both consumers and the Web industry. - Read the whole story...


Make no mistake, this is a big deal for everyone. Not just us little web based startup companies. ALL the big guys on the internet today started as little web based startups like us. All now employ thousands of people and produce billions in revenue and shareholder value.

Cut out the little guys ability to get started and you radically cut the number of potential big guys down the road. The end result: A few monopoly like players that control the market AND a lack of innovation. Most of the 'cool' stuff the big guys do comes from little guys they either copy or buy up. A few of us little guys actually grow up to BE big guys. And that keeps things moving forward. ClickCaster wouldn't exist today if the net weren't neutral. If we were required to pay 'extra' just to compete at the same level as the big guys (fast bandwidth, nicely shaped packets that get to our customers at the same time and same speed as Yahoo Video's, or iTunes) we simply wouldn't have started the company. We'd be working at Comcast or Apple or Yahoo. We'd be doing interesting things, no doubt, but true innovation? Not so much.

Email your congressman or senators. Tell them you actually care about Net Neutrality being real because, in the long run, you really do. It may not be obvious to the average person today, but it effects you, your children and your work, in a big way.

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