Monday, September 9, 2013

Verizon want to end the Internet (they just don't know it)

Today, Verizon squared off against the FCC in what promises to be a long fight over the future of the Internet. What is at stake is something called Net Neutrality. FCC want to keep it, Verizon does not. 

On the face of it, the case argued in Federal Court in DC today is about whether the FCC has legal authority to regulate the internet (within the US) at all. But the reason why this case came to be in the first place was that the FCC decided that Net Neutrality was one of the core principles that had contributed to the explosive growth and innovation provided by the Internet as we know it.

Verizon didn't like it and decided to go nuclear by questioning the FCC authority in court.

While Verizon possibly views the current debate around Net Neutrality to be somewhat overblown since they "just want the ability" to sell premium bandwidth delivery services to companies and content providers, their position fails to take into account two major issues.

1. Verizon (and most carriers) have lost the innovation race

While carriers used to be very relevant for innovation in the IT space a couple of decades ago when the world was being wired together, they have lost out when it comes to the services that run on these cables.

Be as it may with Verizon's current ambitions regarding Net Neutrality, because of their lack of innovation and ability to stay relevant, it won't be long before some bean counter will come up with the brilliant idea that Verizon native content or services might work much better and be more competitive if competing services by leading innovators are blocked or slowed down.

In essence, the downward trajectory of general carrier mismanagement and effort to cling to the last straw to stay relevant will result in an internet that looks an awful lot like what is provided through your cable TV box today or the AOL specific content back in the day when "portals" were all the rage.

2. Net Neutrality is what has gotten us this far

Net Neutrality means that any provider of bandwidth (in the backbone or on the edge) is not allowed to prioritize or slow down certain content unless for certain network management reasons or legal reasons. This is how the Internet has worked from day 1. 

It is also one of the main reasons for the rapid success and spread of the Internet. Without Net Neutrality there probably wouldn't have been a Google, Facebook and most Apple services like Apps and iMessage probably would not exist today.

Messing with Net Neutrality might win the battle for Verizon but will lose the war for everyone, including Verizon. But if your main concern is your next quarterly report and not the long term viability of your business, that is to be expected.

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