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Today's Internet Slowdown

Today End Point is participating in an Internet-wide campaign to raise awareness about net neutrality, the FCC's role in overseeing the Internet in the United States, and the possible effects of lobbying by large consumer Internet providers.

Many companies and individuals are in favor of specific "net neutrality" regulation by the FCC, and make good arguments for it, such as these by Battle for the Net, Etsy and ThoughtWorks and Reddit.

There are also plenty speaking out against certain specific regulatory proposals out there: TechFreedom, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Todd Wasserman, and with a jaunty propagandistic style, NCTA, the cable company's lobby.

I think we are all sympathetic to free-market arguments and support non-governmental solutions that allow companies and individuals to create things without getting permission, and to arrange services and peering as they see fit. It seems that most people and companies understand the need to pay for more bandwidth, and more data transfer. (Marketers are the ones promising unlimited everything, then hiding limits in the fine print!) Many of us are worried about further entrenching government in private networks, whether ostensibly for national security, "intellectual property" policing, or enforcing net neutrality.

But the market competition is hobbled when there are few competitors in a given geographic area. Many Internet users have few options if their ISP begins to filter or slow traffic by service type. I think we would all be better off with less false advertising of "unlimited downloads" and more realistic discussion of real costs. ISP backroom arm-twisting deals with companies just using the network as customers request can invisibly entrench existing players to the exclusion of new entrants.

Every Internet provider builds on lots of infrastructure that was funded by the public, platform popularity built by other companies and individuals, rights of way granted by local municipalities and others, research done by government-funded institutions, and finally, their own semi-monopoly positions that are sometimes enforced by government at various levels.

In any case there is not really a simple argument on either side either entirely for or against regulation. Some regulation is already there. The question is what form it will take, how it affects different groups now, and how it shapes the possibilities in the future.

End Point does not endorse any specific position or proposal on the table at the FCC, but we want to raise awareness about this Internet regulation discussion and hope that you will do some research and comment to the FCC about how you see things. It's worth letting your Internet provider, mobile phone carrier, and businesses you interact with online know how you feel too! Those outside the United States may find similar debates underway in their countries, perhaps not getting the broad attention they deserve.

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