We in Malaysia have been following the news of Net Neutrality very closely. From Wikipedia:
Net neutrality (also network neutrality or Internet neutrality) is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.
The problem now is that the ISPs in US such as Comcast discriminates against video streaming provider like Netflix, by creating a “fast lane” for them and asking them to use it. Comcast’s idea is that since Netflix is streaming more data than others to its customers, therefore it needs to pay extra. Notice how ridiculous it sounds? Comcast is being paid by customers to provide fast end point Internet connection, and failing to do that, they now ask the content provider to share the cost with them.
Traditionally it is the end customers– like us– who are paying for the bandwidth usage, and not the content provider. Now both parties are being charged. Given that Comcast has near monopoly ( or dualpoly) status in US, Netflix has no choice but to pay up. If this is not bullying behavior, I don’t know what else is.
After Netflix, who else will get the end of the stick? Amazon Instant Video? HULU Plus? Youtube?
If Comcast is allowed to have its way, then we can see that the cost of streaming movies/musics will go up, this is no good for everyone; you might need to pay in order to watch YouTube videos uninterrupted one day!
Not only that, creating a fast lane defeats the purpose of a democratic Internet. What if I want to deliver my content to my users, but I am a startup and I can’t afford fast lane?
Then pop-and-mom startups will be discriminated and being put at a disadvantage. That’s the problem.
Also, once the Pandora box is opened, the gene will be out, and every single ISPs out there will strive to copy Comcast’s rogue behavior.
Malaysians! You do know how our ISPs behave right?
Malaysians are getting slower and more expensive Internet connection service, no thanks to them. Because tmnet enjoys near monopoly status ( just like Comcast) in Malaysia, therefore they can get away with it.
There was once upon a time when tmnet first introduced its UNIFI service and it capped the monthy usage limit at 60GB, a laughable amount given that UNIFI is being billed as fiber connection. But because tmnet enjoys near monopoly status ( just like Comcast) in Malaysia, therefore they can get away with it. In the end, the cap isn’t strictly enforced, but the whole episode leaves a bad taste in mouth.
There was once upon a time even when torrent download speed is being capped! And of course they have a beautiful name for it: “Fair Data Usage“. The beauty of this policy is that once it is invoked, the slowness of the internet connection speed suddenly becomes your customer’s problem, not yours. This is what I call “chicanery”.
Now, assuming that Net Neutrality is being challenged and overthrown in US, what will happen in Malaysia?
All the local ISPs will gladly follow the glorious example set by Comcast. They will start demanding payment from Youtube, Yahoo, Google. In the end, it’s the consumers who suffer. You will find that the price of Netflix, and Amazon Instant Videos shoot up because those content providers have to pay ISPs from all around the world.
The ISPs will get fatter and fatter, but the quality of the streaming videos, worse and worse. How is that supposed help Internet to become a democratic and leveling force in the world? How are we going to achieve our future?
Enough talking! What can we do?
Unfortunately, there is very little kindlemalaysia.com can do in this case; we are located far away from the US after all! But this doesn’t stop us from giving our US comrades morale support!
If you visit Reddit, Netflix and Upworthy today, you might see this message:
Don’t panic, you have done nothing wrong! Just take a deep breath, carry on with whatever you are doing, and meanwhile, educating yourself about Net Neutrality. Today is the Net Neutrality day!
As Thomas Jefferson, a founding father of the US said:
If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.
So our plea to you; do read, and read a lot! Educating yourself, knowing that freedom in any form is never been granted easily by the powers-to-be but is achieved through struggle is the first step to guard against any form of encroachment