For those of you who don’t know, I used to run the sales organizations for multi-national companies like GTE (which is now part of Verizon), SAVVIS Communications (which is now part of CenturyLink), and Cable and Wireless USA.
In my career with Infrastructure Providers I held positions like Director, Vice President, and Chief Marketing Officer, and I want to assure you the moment Net Neutrality protections are removed, the decision makers at every ISP in the country will figure out how to monetize your traffic.
I don’t care if you’re an individual or a business, you should be very scared of anyone that provides your connectivity.
Here’s what’s going to happen …
Good for ISPs, Bad For You and Me
First, new service offerings will pop up that allow customers to pay extra for their content to be delivered “faster”… Oh God, the executives and shareholders are going to LOVE this!!! You see, right now every packet of data that gets delivered is treated equally. So that means ISPs have to continually upgrade their systems to handle expanding amounts of usage. They put massive switches and routers in the networks to keep the data flowing. They’re actually called “BFRs” – Big F’in Routers. Just ask your IT guy…
But as soon as Net Neutrality is out the window ISPs will be free to STOP putting in new infrastructure. They’ll save hundreds of millions of dollars a year! Because they’ll program the BFRs to prioritize the traffic of customers who pay extra, and make all the other data wait.
In fact, the death of Net Neutrality actually incents ISPs to slow everything down. Because then we’ll all be complaining, and they’ll have a very simple answer! Pay extra for a higher speed service! This way they double dip by saving a bundle NOT upgrading hardware, and at the same time get people to pay more money to use the exact same systems they’ve already invested in! It’s awesome!
Charge More, Give Less!
It’s like the airlines. You know how they’re cramming all those extra seats in the planes in the cattle section, but at the same time first class keeps getting better and better! It incents the high margin upsell.
The history of the Internet is full of examples. In the early days when everyone used to have to dial in to get connectivity there were low cost providers that didn’t have enough capacity or incoming phone lines. So you would get busy signals for hours – as in up to 96% of calls were rejected! People scrambled to find another provider with open phone lines and were willing to pay more not to deal with busy signals.
Bandwidth limiting is a related moneymaker. How many years did we all suffer with limited amounts of usage on our cell phones? And I don’t know about you but Comcast limited my home Internet (no, it wasn’t always limited) to 1 TB per month. But you can pay for more! So you don’t think they’ll also slow things down, but allow you to pay for more? Hell yes they will!
Who Couldn’t See This Coming?
It shouldn’t be any surprise all this happens, and will always continue to happen. Because executives get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (or millions) every year to figure out how to squeeze the most margin and the most volume out of their sales and marketing organizations.
When they’re good, it drives the company valuations higher, which raises stock prices. But it also has another effect. Every year the stockholders expect more. More sales, more growth, higher margins.
The problem is, in industries like this the market eventually becomes fairly saturated. So, how do you appease insatiable stockholders when every person has a cell phone… every home is connected to the Internet… but they still want margins to keep growing.
Well, if Net Neutrality rules disappear, the conclusion is inevitable. Executives believe they have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders of the company. That basically means if they can legally and ethically make the shareholders more money they have to! Or, of course, be replaced with someone who will.
Trump’s New FCC Chair is An Idiot
With all due respect to Lawyers, like that new guy running the FCC, you shouldn’t listen to anything they say. Because no matter how good it sounds (right or wrong), it doesn’t matter! Lawyers make arguments, not decisions. The lawyers work for the executives, not the other way around.
So executives, like me, pull the attorneys in to get their opinions. But at the end of the day we make the decisions. Attorneys work for the executives. Executives work for the shareholders. And the system demands more money! So decisions are going to be made that move towards more profits, regardless of moral, ethical or legal impact.
Net Neutrality is the ONLY tool available to the citizens for protection. We keep having to defend it over, and over, and over… It’s such a fundamental issue that not only should we protect it, that protection should actually come in the form of an amendment to the Constitution. Otherwise after decades of saying the same thing, eventually the people who understand the situation will either die, or end up sounding like old relics…