Imagining the Web Minus Net Neutrality

A reddit user has created a striking visual representation of what *could* happen if net neutrality laws are shot down.

The image is based tiered pricing plans that some cable and Internet companies currently offer (lending, perhaps, an increased measure of reality to the illustration) and imagines, for example, websites such as Hulu and YouTube as part of a "Hollywood Tier," available for $10 over the price paid for basic Internet service.

More relevant here is the rendering of a “Playground” tier that includes Valve’s Steam platform, World of Warcraft, Gametap, Electronic Arts and Real Arcade, offered for a $5 surcharge. Yikes!

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  1. sharpshooterbabe says:

    But I don’t have satelite or cable. I just have basic cable. The basic channels. I watch all my shows on Hulu or Fancast & the shows websites themselves i.e., CW33, KTXA, KPAX, etc….Adult swim and more.

  2. Kabyk says:

    Ah, well, I suppose it is still simply on the discussion table. But the fact that it is there at all is the first snowflake that can easily become a giant snowball.

  3. Neeneko says:

    While amusing, I consider this image kinda backwards.  The consumer relates to the image but it does not represent what the ISPs are after.

    What they want is the ability to charge OTHER people’s customers.  So if you want people to have fast access to your site, you have to get a contract with your own ISP, then a seperate one with Verizon, then a seperate one with Comcast, etc.. with each ISP having the ability to say ‘sorry, we have an inhouse serivce that competes with you, so we will not give you full bandwidth to our customers’.

    All of this will be transpart to customers, but it will be a huge headache for major websites and VoIP providers.

  4. SeanB says:

    Thats a little out of context. One of the executives has stated to the board that HULU "must start charging access fees for at least some of it’s content as early as next year"

    That’s all. This is the opinion of one executive. To my knowledge, the rest of HULU disagrees with him.

  5. Kabyk says:

    We are on our way there. It was announced recently Hulu will be charging a subscription fee in 2010.

    Say goodbye to your nickels and dimes now, folks, before you get too attached to them.

  6. hellfire7885 says:

    Heh, in a time when peopel are already forced to make a choice between paying the bills ,seeing a doctor, or even eatingm companies are looking for ways to LITERALLY nickel and dime us to death

  7. Furluge says:

    Your arguements are great and thought out but I’m afraid they’re not going to gain more traction. Most people have been taught all their lives to use government to affect change. Don’t like something? Ban it. Want children taught things matching your creedo, lobby the school district. I’ve found this attitude in a majority of the people I’ve spoken too. They all think it is perfectly fine to force people to do/fund something as long as they agree with it, but fail to realize that the same aparatus that they’re using to force this change is being used to force 100s of things upon them that they dislike/hate for every 1 that manages to get through in their favor. They don’t see it as force. They generally understand that lobbyists control the government but can’t see through simple ruses in legislation designed to hurt them, they think that if they can just get enough of "their people" that everything will "be ok", forgetting the fact that their goal is impossible and even if it came to pass they’d just destroy someone else’s freedom.

    And also since they’ve never seen a free market they can’t concieve how a free market would regulate itself. They only see the end result of what happens when you give an entity on a monopoly on force, give it a blank check, that entity get’s bought off by rich patrons who then use the bought off entity to eliminate competition and ensure their own well being for generations, and they think that is captialism, when in reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

  8. foolkiller79 says:

    Now, take all your examples and tell me how pulling back government enforced and supported geographical monopolies would prevent them from doing anything.  If there are multiple ISPs operating in a region then none of them would try to pull the stuff this image purports because it would be business suicide.

    What regulations?  What regulations?!  I would post everything the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) has done since it was founded in 1934 but it would likely crash the GamePolitics server.  My 300 level Telecommunications Law course at the University of Kentucky had a 1200 page text book printed on onion paper, and that was just bachelors level stuff.  We had an entire library devoted to the law books.  Regulation is what they do.  Regulation is why any government entity exists.  If there is a department, organization, or commission run by the government whatever industry they oversee has regulations. 

    But if you want the one I am specifically referring to (and have mentioned multiple times now) the FCC holds the power to grant or deny any company entry into the marketplace.  If a potential competitor wants into a market they are required to obtain from the FCC a "certificate of public convenience and necessity."  The intent of this, when the FCC was created, was to prevent "wasteful duplication" and "unneeded competition." Unneeded competition.  If ever there was an official anti-free market goal from the government that is it.  On a state level there are public service commissions, which do the same thing.  Now please, try and tell me that there is no regulation to prevent a free market system in the telco industry.

    As for AT&T:  The AT&T we have now is not the AT&T that was split up.  Ma Bell went bust and was bought up by SBC for $16 billion, who also picked up the naming rights in the deal.  Much like Atari, the old AT&T is dead.  Someone completely different is using the name.  If it were the old AT&T they wouldn’t be allowed to be as big as they are now because of the terms of the break up.

    Since you brought it up, as an added bit of education of government interventionism doing more harm than good, look up exactly how AT&T got their monopoly.  Specifically, check out what happened with the government nationalization of the telecommunications industry during World War I and who they handed it all over to after the war.  Before WWI there were companies trying to compete, but they were effectively killed by, not AT&T, the government nationalization program.  AT&T isn’t innocent.  The government told them how it would work out before they did anything.  This is government corporatism at its best.  During the government’s control long distance rates saw a 20% increase, 84% of that money was given to AT&T when they handed control back over.  And just for good measure, the government also cut AT&T a $13 million check to cover any losses.

    Now, are you sure that the government should be the ones trusted to "prevent" an AT&T like situation? 

  9. Sporge says:

    What businesses can come in because of net neutrality? Well let’s see, though it is hard to look at the web beyond big names like google, ebay, amazon, ect., There are plenty of place on the internet where you find someone just starting a following.  I personally thing webcomics are a great example, there are a ton of them.  Those that do well actually become a business of their own with merchandise and advertising.  But what if some of these cartoonists sites were blocked because  they had to censor their comics or keep them PG-13 to be allowed through.  For that matter look at sites like this one we are on, it might not survive if blocked by a major internet providers.  It would also suffocate nontradition data transfer, which would greatly hinder innovation.  P2P is one example but there are bound to be more in the future.

    I mean look at how cell phones are handled compared to computers, the amount of effort those companies put into controlling what is on those devices is stiffling.  The same goes for current video game systems in such instances of how Nintendo is actively trying to erase the homebrew channel.  What if internet providers decided they don’t want you using linux, so they don’t let you on unless you buy windows and install it. 


    And what regulation was set down before this?  The actually starting of the phone companies way back at the begining of the 20th century?  This was from a time when there were many such explotative companies and the fact is it is hard to control them once they become so prosperous.  AT&T may have been split but it is far from gone.

    The net neutrality regulations are to prevent things like how AT&T controled most of the phones in the nation for a majority of the 20th century.  I certainly don’t want one company taking control of the internet by only allowing certain types of data or sites through. 

  10. foolkiller79 says:

    When my kid spills milk I don’t hand him the carton and tell him to pour himself a new glass without supervision.  I show him how to clean up the mess by removing what he spilled from the floor.  It doesn’t get fixed by doing something else with the milk, it gets fixed by cleaning it up.

    The current problems are there because of government intervention and instead of removing that intervention, which is preventing big or small business competition, you want them to regulate the system more.  Open up the geographical monopolies to any company.  My current situation is that I am stuck with the local government run plant board and…no one else.  Not even a DSL option because the plant board is cable and phone.  I don’t get a choice and my maximum available plan is 8MB.  I bet that would change real quick if AT&T, Comcast, Windstream, Insight, and whoever else wanted a piece were allowed to come in and compete.

    You pull back the current regulations that allow this crap to happen and when five companies are competing for business they will recognize that the silly setup shown in this image would be fiscal suicide because if just one company stuck to our current pricing schemes they would get all the business.

    By the way, if you think the market is allowed to handle itself you didn’t comprehend what I said.  It isn’t allowed to handle itself now.  Why not give a real free market solution a chance, not this regulation on top of regulation system that has been failing to work time and time again?  How many times does the government have to fail before people quit expecting them to actually fix something? 

    And what small businesses will be able to come in due to net neutrality?  Some competition against Amazon or Ebay?

  11. Neeneko says:

    One generally does not start up a telecom.  Telecoms have made sure that local rules ensure that they do not have competition.  You can not just go and string new cable anywhere you feel like it.

    As for boycotts.. at this point it is like trying to boycott the power company or the waterworks.  Sure in theory you can get people to do it, but the negative effects at the microlevel are much worse then any macro level impact you can have.

    In the end, the local telcos have too strong of  a hand for market forces to actually effect them.   They do not have to make customers happy because customers need what they provide and have few options for obtaining it otherwise.  The only way to impact them is to treat them like governments,.. by getting other governments (i.e. the local elected one) to put diplomatic pressure and sanctions on them.

  12. chadachada321 says:

    Alright, you have two companies to choose from in your area. In a true free market economy, if neither of these two companies were being "fair," then you and/or other dissenters are supposed to start you own business to compete with the other two companies. Either that, or get enough people to leave both of those companies so that the companies change their business model to suit consumer needs.

    Remember: Companies are WORKING for YOUR money. You don’t HAVE to buy anything from companies that are acting immaturely. If you buy from them, then you are supporting any immature/unfair services that you pay for. That’s what boycotts are for. If we got several million people to unsubscribe from Comcast over a data cap for just a couple of months, Comcast would sure as hell change their business model to make consumers happy.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

  13. Sporge says:

    Just because one body creates a problem does not prevent them from being able to fix it.  If your kid spills milk don’t you want to teach him to clean up his mess? 

    Some of these companies are at a point where the only way to intervene is through the government.  The internet is a new thing still and I for one prefer a model where a small business man can set up without fear of being blocked by another company with money to throw around.  People argue that the market can handle itself, but when allowed to it always ends with those trying to start a business without much money getting horrible treatment. 

    Net neutrality is a chance to have a more even playing field for businesses than ever before.

  14. foolkiller79 says:

    I find it a bit funny to see two people comment on the geographic monopolies as an argument against how a free market system could work.  You are both correct, these geographic monopolies prevent a free market system from working properly, because it is not a free market setup.  But why on Earth would you complain about a government created setup and then argue for more government intervention? 

    The problem is the government initiated and allowed monopolies. When the problem stems from government intervention why would anyone want more government intervention?  You want to see a free market system that works in the consumers’ favor even more than government forced "net neutrality?"  Pull back the current government interventions.  Allow as many companies as the market can sustain to enter a city.  If we ever get systems that look like this image it won’t be because the government failed to act on "net neutrality," but because they had set up a system that would allow this to happen decades ago.  Of course, government can get away without blame because all they have to do is say something about greedy companies and and the public whips out the torches and pitchforks. 

    Asking the government to fix the current system with more regulation is like trying to rehabilitate an alcoholic in a bar. 

  15. Thomas McKenna says:

     In the US, companies such as cable, internet, power, and phones can have what’s called a geographic monopoly, which means they are the sole provider for that service in the area.  This started changing up a bit with satellites, thus increasing the number of a lot of these services to 2 or 3, but still, in a given area, that’s not a whole lot of choice.  If all of them choose to go against net neutrality, then the customers in that area are basically screwed, and have to weigh the option of whether they should even purchase internet usage.

  16. Sporge says:

    The problem with this is when one company controls too much.  If in your area you have only 2 companies, both doing the same thing that you don’t like you no longer have a choice if you want any internet.  This bit of regulation is just to keep companies from regulating the internet like that, really this would have no effect over the level the government controls the internet.  Take the first amendment, it is there to protect free speech, I would hardly consider that a goverment regulation of speech.

  17. Unrealevil says:

    You’re probably thinking of this:  The one on Reddit includes recent logos and new services, so it can’t have been floating around for years.  As the author points out in the comments (when he’s not in character), he just wanted to make a newer version.

  18. Austin_Lewis says:

    Yeah I saw this quite a while ago.  Interesting to see someone else trying to take credit for it.

  19. SeanB says:

    That image is super old. I hope the Reddit user didn’t claim he had just made it up.

    EDIT: Yup, he did. And reddit comments are already pointing out that it’s old.

  20. Neeneko says:

    The problem with market pressures is they only tend to work on the low end.  The ‘invisible hand’ concept was developed during a time when companies were weak, playing fields were fairly level, and government were strong.

    But as the companies get stronger, they start factoring in more like governments then private orginizations.  Look at the telecoms.. via contracts they essentially have their own legal system, and they negotiate with the federal government with more leverage then most forign nations.  In most areas you only have one choice so you either sware to them or are blackballed (which in many ways is, again, like a government.. if you live in their territory you are either a citizen or you are not).

  21. FlakAttack says:

    Here in Canada, the CRTC is already taking steps towards killing net neutrality. Soon we will be paying the worst rates in the developed world. It’s only a matter of time now that Bell won its ruling. The first thing they will do: starve out all the wholesalers. It will just be a repeat of what happened 10 years ago.

  22. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya I mean how difficult a concept is this


    5GB a month at 200KBPS+ for 10 $ a month

    25GB a month at 400KBPS+ for 15 $ a month

    75GB a month at 800KBPS+ for 25 $ a month


    25GB a month at 1200KBPS+ for 25$ a month

    50GB a month at 2200KBPS+ for 35$ a month

    100GB a month at 2200KBPS+ for 45$ a month


    Unlimited At 800KBPS+ for 50$ a month

    Unlimited At 2200KBPS+ for 70$ a month

    Unlimited At 4200KBPS+ for 95$ a month


    Theres a 5$ charge for going over the limit at which time you get billed for next months service, so working in a 30 day cycle you hit the cap you get charged 5$+ the monthly, now its working on a metered rate of the monthly based on the cap for 20 days, if you hit the cap again in that 20 day time you pay another monthly use charge and the 20 day counter starts again at the end of the 20 day cycle the cap is reset and starts recounting after that.

    This would be perfect for sub 30$ plans, if you abuse it you have to pay abit more if not then you wont.

    The trouble is they don’t want any kind of user friendly setup, hell even a metered rate of 0.1 cent a MB is not a bad rate about 50GB for 50$ but frankly speaking I still think basing the price around the speed (200KBPS=5$, 4-8mbps=100$) more than the data bandwidth,basically if you don;t want to pay 50$+ for broadband get something slower than a 2 or 3mb connection . I mean sirously they are the ones to cry on about speeds yet refuse to deal with the issues for fear of competition….that and they are brain dead scum….

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!!

  23. GoodRobotUs says:

    There are still companies out there that charge by the volume of data transferred in a session, though most of them are dwindling as average usage of the Internet increases and pushes prices above a ‘standard’ ISP connection, but that, too, is healthy, because it’s how a market should work, a new way will have to be found to provide Internet by volume more cheaply.

    The problem is, many Telecommunications companies want to have their cake and eat it, they are nervous about investing shareholder money in the current economy, but know that expansion is only way to keep up with the growing demand for Internet connectivity. So they try to find a way to generate cash without having to dig into their own reserves. Things such as charging for service levels often come with a promise that ‘once the problem is solved, it will be removed’, they said that about the Income Tax in the UK, just before the Napoleonic Wars of around 1800…

    The fact is, they are going to have to do it the hard way, mile by mile, router by router, and they are going to have to invest their shareholders money into the business (which was the original purpose of selling shares), trying to milk more out of the customers, by targetting the most popular activities and blaming them for the fact the Internet is popular is not only self-defeating in the long term (since it would only take one Net-Neutral ISP to take most of their business away) but also rather dumb, because they are ripping the heart out of the Internet purely for the sake of a quick profit.

    Finally, as an aside, opening packets and filtering them by destination is probably going to cause a lag anyway, since how many times is this filter going to be applied to your data between you and the server?

  24. Chaplain99 says:

    I really don’t know how the particulars of such a system work, but I know this much: it wouldn’t be the end of the internet, but it’d hurt like hell nonetheless.

    Anywhere I can go to find out more about how…well…I guess, how the internet "works?"  …saying that made me cringe on the inside… ><

    "HEY! LISTEN!"

  25. xMrAx says:

    If this were to actually happen, hackers would have a field day and 4chan would be mad.





    In all reality, I see this plan would be the end of the internet. Eventually no one will have the extra money to pay. Since so many companies rely on the internet it would also cause a tremendous economic downturn. 

  26. GoodRobotUs says:

    I think, with nothing to stop them companies would probably mix the two, charging companies for being moved up or down in priority bands, whilst, at the same time, charging the customers varying rates for those bands, I have a nasty suspicion that if NN was abolished, telcom companies would soon forget entirely about respective bandwidth use, and focus far more on who’s paying them the most.

  27. Kris says:

    Haha, shit….  I’d use up those 60 hours in a week. 

    Anyway, I thought the model was that companies would pay providers to allow their websites to load faster.  Not have consumers pay extra to get quicker access to the sites they use.

  28. ecco6t9 says:

    Well if it did come down to this I would stop using the internet. Sure my morning paper might tell me what happened yesterday,magazines might be outdated by about 4-8 weeks, and the local CBS and Fox stations have technical issues with their 10:00PM news broadcasts but at least I’m not paying for min by min internet.


    The way I see it happening especially in this country is

    "AT&T I-ternet gets you access to top sites like MySpace,eBay,Craigslist,Facebook and TMZ plus others for only $79.99 a month for 60 Hours! But wait we offer the fairest deal for the internet with roll over hours that can be comined with your At&t wireless plan."


    "Comcast offers the best in the net with access to all the hot sites for $69.99! Plus we will throw in HBO for free for all Comcast customers."

  29. chadachada321 says:

    Then purchase internet from a company that wouldn’t pull that bullcrap. Your dollar has a say, you shouldn’t expect the government to control it for you.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

  30. GoodRobotUs says:

    Personally, I agree, but once again, if market pressure worked the way it should, rather than having companies attempting to dictate it, then pay-by-volume systems would be pressured into being provided for a price that challenged the per-month system for all but the heaviest users.

    The whole thing is ridiculous anyway, if the BBC started layering the License Fee depending on whether you watched popular programs or less popular ones, then all that would happen is that the popular programs would become unpopular and vice-versa. It’s entirely self-defeatist, and actually seems to me to be somewhat immoral, since AT&T etc are effectively attempting to hold Blizzard etc in a stranglehold, where they can dictate to those companies.

  31. Austin_Lewis says:

    Yeah, this was made a long time ago, and it hasn’t changed since then, has it?  You’re always going to pay a different price for different speed of internet, but this is unlikely to ever happen, mainly because some of these companies are related to companies on the internet IIRC. 

    This whole thing is moronic, and I trust the FCC to regulate about as much as I trust any other government group to regulate.

  32. Beacon80 says:

    Agreed.  If companies want to charge me for how much time I spend on the internet, that’s fair (hell, it’s how it used to work!), but restricting or impeding my ability to visit certain sites or use certain services is not cool.

  33. mentor07825 says:

    I agree whole heartidly with what you just said man.

    "God, is that you?"

    "No! It’s a me, Mario!"

  34. GoodRobotUs says:

    The scary part is that it is a frighteningly accurate depiction of what most services would dearly love to do, the usual argument being that the phone bill is based on how many calls you make, so why shouldn’t the Internet bill be based on how heavily you use the Internet?

    Problem is, it’s a lot more complex than that when you look at the actual way the Internet works, packet switching with the phone system is usually based on the ATM system, and a lot of Internet stuff goes via the same route, however, if I pay my ISP for a 2 MBit connection, then that is what I get, 2 MBits of bandwidth, it should really not concern the ISP whether I use my connection for gaming, chatting to friends or browsing websites, I still cannot go above a limit that I have already paid for, it’s up to the ISP’s to regulate data-flow over the WAN so that customers get what they paid for, not what the ISP thinks they should get.

    A lot of money is already made by the communication industry, instead of complaining about the fact the current system cannot handle the workload, why not look at developing the system so it can? Otherwse you aren’t fixing the problem, you’re breaking the concept of the system purely to make it look like it’s working.


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