What Net Neutrality Means to You

I’ve written about Net Neutrality before in the Understanding the Effects of Net Neutrality on Web Programmers post. The post described how Net Neutrality affects developers in particular and made a passing reference to its effect on other users as well. The issues haven’t really changed. Enforcing Net Neutrality could mean free and equal access to the Internet by everyone who needs to use it, but nothing I’ve seen so far really defines what the government means by free or equal. I have concerns that some high priority needs, such as medical or real time communications, will suffer under Net Neutrality. However, the longer I think about the issue, the more I come to realize that some form of Net Neutrality is essential to the health of the Internet as we know it now. In addition, most medical posts I’ve read favor Net Neutrality as being essentially good for patient access to healthcare needs.

A number of things have happened since that post. The most notable is that Net Neutrality has become an issue of Democrats versus Republicans, rather than an honest effort to provide the sort of service that everyone wants. As I predicted, the whole matter ended up in the courts where an appeals court has decided to allow the FCC to implement the Net Neutrality rules. To counteract the court decision, House Republicans have added riders to a must pass bill to fund the government that affects the FCC’s ability to enforce Net Neutrality rules. Apparently, the cable companies have called in the favors they provided politicians in the form of campaign contributions. The Republicans are taking this action despite evidence that most people support Net Neutrality regardless of political identity.

The whole Net Neutrality issue has taken a new direction—one that is becoming all too familiar to Americans. One side, the Democrats in this case, choose to champion an issue and the other side, the Republicans in this case, decide against it. Our legislators seem determined to waste time and energy fighting with each other, rather than accomplish anything resembling real work. In the middle of it all are companies offering money—paying legislators to do their bidding. In this case, the people are on the losing side of the equation. Everything I’ve read tells me that this is a situation where the government really doesn’t care what the people want—it’s all about the money.

Of course, there is a group of people who are caught in the middle of all this—application developers. Actually, anyone responsible for ensuring content moves on the Internet is caught in this current decision to do anything but act responsibly on the part of the government. It isn’t possible to create applications that perform well when you don’t know how the communications used to transfer the data will work. Until the government gets its act together, developers and other IT professionals will simply have to take their best guess as to how to make applications perform well and that hurts everyone. Let me know your thoughts about Net Neutrality and the developer at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.


Understanding the Effects of Net Neutrality on Web Programmers

There has been a lot of hubbub about net neutrality. I even saw not one, but two articles about the topic in my local newspaper the other day. Of course the discussion has been going on for a while now and will continue to go on—eventually ending up in the courts. My initial interest in the topic is different from almost every other account you read. While everyone else seems to be concerned about how fast their app will run, I’m more concerned about getting new applications out and allowing them to run correctly on a wide range of systems.

Both HTML5 Programming with JavaScript for Dummies and CSS3 for Dummies speak to the need of performance testing. Neither book covers the topic in detail or uses exotic techniques, but it’s an issue every good programming book should cover. Of course, I had no idea at the time I wrote these books that something like net neutrality would become fact. The developer now has something new to worry about. Given that no one else is talking much about developer needs, I decided to write Considering Net Neutrality and API Access. The article considers just how developers are affected by net neutrality.

If net neutrality remains the law of the land, developers of all types will eventually have to rethink strategies for accessing data online as a minimum. However, the effects will manifest themselves in even more ways. For example, consider how net neutrality could affect specialty groups such as data scientists. It will also affect people in situations they never expected. For example, what happens when net neutrality assures equal access speeds for the x-ray needed to save your life and that online game the kid is playing next to you? Will people die in order to assure precisely equal access. So far, I haven’t found anyone talking about these issues. There just seems to be this nebulous idea of what net neutrality might mean.

My thought is that we need a clearer definition of precisely what the FCC means by equal access. It’s also important to define exceptions to the rule, such as medical needs or real time applications, such as self-driving cars. The rules need to spell out what fair really means. As things sit right now, I have to wonder whether net neutrality will end up being another potentially good idea gone really bad because of a lack of planning and foresight. What are your ideas about net neutrality? Let me know at John@JohnMuellerBooks.com.