Imagine that it is the middle of the day and you are in the open desert on a long, straight, beautiful stretch of open highway with no speed limit. You have a full tank of gas and a brand new vehicle, so of course you are going to open it up and see what that puppy can do.
Suddenly you see a speed limit sign up ahead; you decide to be law abiding so you slow down a little bit to obey the law, but you are still going at a pretty good speed. A few miles later you see yet another sign that reduces the speed limit, you’re not happy, but you assume there is a reason for it so you slow down yet again. You’re still doing okay, but nowhere near what you could be doing.
Then out of nowhere you hit a school zone speed limit, no school in sight, but the speed limit is there. It’s stupid, you see no reason for it, so you just keep trying to carry on at the same speed, but you can’t because the police have set up a speed trap and it’s going to cost you big time!.
That is what Netflix is fighting. However instead of a highway, it’s the Internet, and the car is your computer. You can only go as fast as your computer can handle, but other than that, there really isn’t a reason for the data and speed caps. The Internet road is wide open, or it should be.
The WWW Was Given to Us, For Free
The World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, while he was working at CERN in Switzerland and the WWW was officially born in 1990. Berners-Lee gave his idea freely to the world and filed no patents, then in 1994, the World Wide Web Consortium confirmed when they decided that the WWW standards should be based on royalty-free technology.
So why are we paying for it? In reality we aren’t (or shouldn’t be) for the use of it, the problem is that you need to get into the WWW somehow and that’s where the Internet providers come in. They are the self-appointed guardians of the gateways. We need to pay to get past the gates, then we continue paying to use their servers, routers, switches and other miscellaneous hardware while we are on the net.
Unfortunately, these gatekeepers also think that gives them the right to restrict your speed and access. This is where Internet Freedom comes in. The battle is far from over, but unfortunately most people have just decided to roll over and take it.
Netflix wants to fight these restrictions. They feel that you should be able to stream anything you want, whenever you want, within the capabilities of your hardware and your local ‘gateway’ to the Internet. They are pushing the U.S. Government to make data caps illegal and sent a letter to the FCC.
Just a few excerpts, but I suggest you read the 10 page letter yourself.
…Data caps can impede the use and availability of advanced telecommunications capabilities…
… Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing discourage a consumer’s consumption of broadband and may impede the ability of some households…
…Data caps on fixedline networks do not appear to serve a legitimate purpose: they are an ineffective network management tool. Fixedline BIAS providers have stated that data caps on fixed line networks do not serve a traffic management function. They have been described alternatively as a way to align consumers’ use of the network with what they pay. As a method of price discrimination however, data caps and UBP are redundant to the speed tiers that
consumers are used to…
…Discriminatory application of data caps are an impediment to advanced telecommunications capability….
…Packet loss and failure to enter into interconnection agreements are an impediment to advanced telecommunications capability….
I’m not saying that this isn’t self-serving for Netflix. It definitely is; it is getting them free publicity and I am certain it will gain them brand loyalty. If Netflix succeeds, then it also opens them up to a whole new batch of customers, which means more money for them. It will definitely help Netflix whether they succeed or not, BUT if they succeed, it means one more step towards true Internet freedom.