Our Take on Net Neutrality: It’s Not What You Think

Manav Ratan Mital

As you’ve likely seen in recent headlines, the net neutrality debate is alive and well. The latest is President Obama’s support of the toughest proposed regulations yet; meanwhile, critics have referred to it derisively as “Obamacare for the Internet.”

Interest in the topic was reignited in April after it leaked that the FCC had plans to overturn net neutrality and allow service providers to charge for “fast lane” Internet access. The argument here is that bandwidth hogs are clogging the “pipes,” and should therefore pay more for bandwidth because they use more of it. Service providers maintain that the proceeds will be used to build out the Internet’s infrastructure to ensure better overall performance for everyone.

But net neutrality supporters are skeptical. They insist that bandwidth abuse will ensue and the Internet will grind to a halt for those unable to pay for premium service (namely, startups and other small businesses). FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (a former cable industry lobbyist) assures this will not happen. I suppose we’ll just have to trust him…

You may be surprised to learn that Instart Logic is a staunch supporter of net neutrality. Why is this surprising? Because we (as well as CDN vendors) would stand to benefit greatly from the FCC’s new plan to overturn it. Like CDNs, our SDAD architecture was built as a private network that overlays the Internet, in a sense. Any company that buys our service can pretty much avoid unmanaged congestion. If net neutrality were overturned, we’d see an uptick in business from organizations that are desperate for better Internet performance but can’t pay the tolls imposed by service providers.

Still, while the success of our business is important, we are, at our core, a small company built around innovation. Overturning net neutrality would hurt innovative entrepreneurs and small organizations that rely on Internet access to grow their businesses. In turn, innovation itself could be stifled. This, in addition to the negative impact on our customers and the overall health of the Internet, are reason enough for our strong position in support of net neutrality.