"The principles of Net Neutrality have created the Internet as we know it -- the most dynamic network for communication and commerce in human history," states The Case for Preserving Net Neutrality, a report by AeA, which represents 2,500 companies from every corner of the high-tech industry.
In this latest brief on market competitiveness, the AeA calls on Congress to "safeguard the competitive nature of the Internet by allowing consumers and content providers to connect with each other in an open marketplace, providing consumers with equal access to all content."
According to the report, the only way to do this is for Congress to prevent companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast from abusing their market power by imposing discriminatory new surcharges that favor the content from companies and Web sites that pay them the most.
Allowing the nation's largest phone and cable companies to tilt the market in favor of larger and better funded content providers would "undermine the fundamental principles of open and free exchange of information across the network," according to the AeA report.
Despite the spin now emanating from the phone and cable company PR firms, the threat is very real.
Flat Out Lies
The report explodes the telco myth that content providers aren't already paying for access, conservatively estimating that the largest service providers receive at least $13.1 billion annually in bandwidth fees from 7.3 billion business Internet subscribers.
This is direct contradiction to telco spinmeister Mike McCurry, who in an op-ed for the Baltimore Sun claimed that Google’s access to bandwidth doesn’t cost the company a dime -- an assertion that Tech Dirt's Michael Masnick called "a flat out lie."
Telcos already profit handsomely from charging companies for their share of bandwidth. Now, they want to add surcharges that are based on the ownership or source of content -- a concept that would result in a tiered Internet, weighted towards the largest companies and against the sort of Web innovation that typically bubbles up from below.
According to the AeA report:
"By tiering the Internet based on who pays the most to prioritize their content, the telecom industry is creating a system of haves and have-nots: those that can afford the premium for preferred treatment and those that cannot.
"A tiered system for broadband services is already in place, but it is based on the bandwidth purchased by the consumer and content provider, who both are already paying for Internet access. This current system allows consumers equal access to any legal content they choose and gives even the smallest content provider the chance to compete in a robust marketplace. This system treats all packets equally."
Companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast will stifle the competitive marketplace if they're allowed to discriminate based on who can afford to pay their planned premiums.
The phone and cable companies seek to strip away the egalitarian idea on which the Internet was founded -- which rewards the best concepts or Web sites -- and shift power to the larger companies that can outbid competitors for preferential treatment.
The AeA report provides guidance for those in Congress who are willing to stand with the public and protect the Internet from such predatory and anti-competitive schemes.