|By Esmeralda Swartz||
|March 11, 2014 11:15 AM EDT||
In my last blog, I discussed how today's Internet is vastly different than the Internet envisioned at the start of the net neutrality debate. As promised, I'd now like to get into some fictional examples that paint the picture of why this is such a polarizing topic for so many.
Example 1: Perhaps one day I will find that while I can make a Skype call from the office, it doesn't work from home. Then I find that I've lost access to all my Skype contacts who live in an area served by a certain phone company. When I go to Facebook it's the other way around - I can access my Facebook account from home, but not when I'm visiting a friend who lives in a different area with a different carrier.
Example 2: And then there's the guy who signed up for a year's worth of music streaming, only to find that his Internet service provider (ISP) just sold an exclusive deal to a competing music service so he can't access the music he paid for any more. Who's going to give him a refund?
Example 3: A home worker finds that she can no longer submit copy online to her editor from her home office, and instead has to go to Starbucks. And she can't use her corporate email account because it's hosted by Google, so she has to use the puny account from her ISP which won't allow large attachments.
Example 4: Maybe you're using your smartphone's GPS when you're out of town, and all of a sudden the maps don't update because you've come to a place where the roaming service provider has a deal with a different app provider, and your service is blocked. Then you worry whether you left your lights on at home, but you can't get access to your home automation server.
These scenarios all sound like nuisances and they can't possibly happen, can they? Surely they're a bit over the top? In principle, there's no reason why they couldn't. The ISPs fought for the freedom to pick and choose, and it's hardly likely they will simply forget about it. As we've said in previous blogs, we have confidence that this will all work itself out over time, with added competition and customer pressure. But to some extent, we probably need to learn to live with this sort of patchiness, unless all the ISPs block and favor the exact same edge-providers - which is not likely. In the next blog, we'll look at why a constantly evolving Internet makes the scenarios previously discussed unlikely.