A Scenic Tour of the Online World

The Importance of Net Neutrality to Content Marketing

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

I normally try to give politics a wide berth, and though net neutrality isn’t really about politics, it is government policy/regulation, and so politics inevitably gets folded in.

The Netflix / Comcast deal recently announced is bad news for content marketers and, really, everyone but those content producers with the deepest pockets.

Network Neutrality

If you missed it, Netflix will pay Comcast a fee for preferred access to Comcast subscribers.

On one level, this is great: Comcast subscribers benefit from a better streaming experience. And Comcast benefits because, if Comcast is an option where you live, maybe you choose them since you want your Frank Underwood without stutters. The only losers are Comcast’s competitors and that’s the way capitalism works.

I don’t have any argument with that. But it’s still a raw deal because it’s also bad news for content creators/providers without deep pockets. Comcast is charging different rates to different people for pushing bits through their network. Given the incredible dependence we’ve developed on the connected world, this seems like a mistake of epic proportions.

As a business owner, I’d never argue in favor of any business being told what it can and can’t charge for its product or service. And Comcast should be able to charge whatever they want. If they want to charge me extra because my kids stream old episodes of Dance Moms all day long (I can’t believe I just admitted that. Someone call social services ..), that’s their right. Our heavy use costs them more than our neighbor who lives alone and only sends a few emails a day.

But they shouldn’t be able to charge the content producers to reach an audience any more than the phone company should be able to charge based on who is doing the calling. (Though it would be interesting if we as consumers could charge what we wanted for someone to dial us. You might charge nothing for your kids to call, $1 for a telemarketer to reach you, and $10 for your mother-in-law …)

It’s hard to believe that there’s any real public sentiment in favor of this. I can’t imagine most people in this country – people of all economic backgrounds and political persuasions – don’t view their internet connection as every bit the same sort of “public utility’ that the telephone has become. It demands the same protections.

photo by: David Fraíz

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