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Public Administration

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In the article “Why You Should Care About Network Neutrality”, Tim Wu argues that network neutrality must be safeguarded for a better future of internet development to be guaranteed. The main reason why this should happen, he says, is that network discrimination, though beneficial to cable companies, hamper the long-term vision of the internet. When there is network discrimination, search engine companies are forced to shift their attention from the goal of improving quality to that of making deals with cable companies. Network discrimination, according to Tim Wu, alters the market, transforming it into a planned economy.

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The internet is an important infrastructure that everyone in the world can use for economic gains. For this reason, it should not be regulated. The critics are right when they say that network discrimination means economic favoritism to the companies that benefit while implying the degradation of the companies that are discriminated against. The internet market, just like any other market, should be driven by quality and competition and not deal-making.

When an internet service provider enters into an agreement with a certain web-based company, the web-based company’s attention is no longer on quality but on the sustainability of the deal. It is true that when this happens, customers run away since they get poor internet services. On the other hand, the websites that have been discriminated against have to bear higher costs in order to market their services. These costs are transferred to the internet-user.

It is true that the internet is just like a road network. If the government decided to offer privileges to a certain motor company, all other companies would immediately start building deals rather than higher-quality cars and the market would suffer from inefficiency.

Indeed, the issue of internet neutrality should be addressed by the government. The comments by FAA chairman Kelvin Martin are very unfortunate. By favoring some web companies and leaving out others, internet service providers are in essence using their position to threaten stakeholders with an aim of extracting money from them in exchange for favors. The federal government should always ensure that this does not happen. Cable companies have all the incentives to maintain the neutrality of the internet and they should use these incentives to safeguard a bright future for this important infrastructure.

Just like in the case of other “carriers” and infrastructure such as electric grids, roads, railway networks and canals, the internet deserves special treatment owing to its enormous capacity to catalyze economic development. For this reason, all the gatekeepers of the internet must be monitored by the federal government in order to ensure that they do not exploit the providers of internet services at the expense of the future of the internet

After all, broadband networks operate in a better manner when there is neutrality. Although cable and phone companies may generate some quick bucks through threats and discrimination, this money gets wasted in the end since the consumers will end up running away from the poor services being offered. This is because prioritization that is made on the basis of deal-making totally disregards the quality of the services offered. In the end, the prioritized companies lose a lot of money by improving their services and improving their damaged reputation.

Questions

  1. Do you think the internet should be given special treatment like other infrastructural facilities such as roads, electric grids, and railways?
  2. What measures should the FAA undertake in order to monitor gatekeepers of the internet services?
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