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Communications

Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You 361

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Berin Szoka and Brent Skorup write that everyone assumes that cable companies have all the market power, and so of course a bigger cable company means disaster. But content owners may be the real heavyweights here: It was Netflix that withheld high-quality streaming from Time Warner Cable customers last year, not vice versa and it was ESPN that first proposed to subsidize its mobile viewers' data usage last year. 'We need to move away from the fear-mongering and exaggerations about threats to the Internet as well as simplistic assumptions about how Internet traffic moves. The real problems online are far more complex and less scary. And it's not about net neutrality, but about net capacity.' The debate is really about who pays for — and who profits from — the increasingly elaborate infrastructure required to make the Internet do something it was never designed to do in the first place: stream high-speed video. 'While many were quick to assume that broadband providers were throttling Netflix traffic, the explanation could be far simpler: The company simply lacked the capacity to handle the "Super HD" video quality it began offering last year.' A two-sided market means broadband providers would have an incentive to help because they would receive revenue from two major sources: content providers (through sponsorship or ads), and consumers (through subscription fees). 'Unfortunately, this kind of market innovation is viewed as controversial or even harmful to consumers by some policy and Internet advocates. But these concerns are premature, unfounded, and arise mostly from status quo bias: Carriers and providers haven't priced like this before, so of course change will create some kind of harm,' conclude Szoka and Skorup. 'Bottom line: The FCC should stop trying to ban prioritization outright and focus only on actual abuses of market power.'"

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