The internet is officially a utility

24 Nov 2014

As featured on DisruptiveViews

Just in case you had any doubts, the most powerful man in the free world has declared that the internet is a public utility. That was how he justified his grand new plan for ‘net neutrality.’

In a letter and a video posted on the White House website, President Obama said he believes “the FCC should reclassify consumer broadband service under Title II of the Telecommunications Act,” allowing ISPs to be more heavily regulated. According to Obama, the change would acknowledge that “the internet has become an essential part of everyday communication and everyday life.”

Just how regulating ISPs more heavily creates greater ‘net neutrality’ is anyone’s guess, but his sudden outburst flies in the face of FCC chairman Tom Wheeler’s views to allow paid prioritization and how ‘net neutrality’ should be handled.

As it works out the FCC does not answer to the President, and does not have to listen to (or even consider) his suggestions but he cannot be ignored either. The proposal calls for no paid prioritization, no blocking of any content that is not illegal, and no throttling of internet services, where some customers have their internet speeds artificially slowed down.

Although these ‘suggestions’ are honorable they may not be viable or even possible the way mobile access to the internet is currently managed. Countless articles have appeared recently showing just how much traffic management and ‘shaping’ needs to done by mobile network operators, in particular, to avoid congestion and downtime on their networks.

Perhaps any call for a ‘net neutrality’ plan such as that envisaged by President Obama should be accompanied by unlimited spectrum availability to network operators so they can deliver unfettered amounts of data just like their utility counterparts in electricity, gas and water currently do.

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