Net Neutrality: No One Wants to Be Stuck in the Slow Lane

Net Neutrality No One Wants to Be Stuck in the Slow LaneNo one wants to be stuck in the slow lane — not on the road, not at the grocery store. But if the letters and calls in favor of net neutrality received by the FCC are any indication, what people really don’t want is to be stuck in internet traffic jams.

The possibility that net neutrality could be abridged has been lost on some people, who have only heard debates centered on delivery of video content, specifically streaming video from purveyors like Netflix, which indeed do consume a lot of internet bandwidth.

The term “net neutrality,” coined in 2003 by Columbia University professor Tim Wu, refers to the overriding principle that all internet traffic, regardless of source, content or type of data, be treated equally.

According to a post at eMarketer, “Broadband service providers, which typically also offer TV and/or streaming video services of their own, have paid enormous sums to build bigger data pipes. They regard OTT services as a threat in more ways than one: as a potential siphon of their customer base and a burden on networks for which the OTT services have not paid.”

That’s one highlight in a new eMarketer report, “Key Digital Trends for Midyear 2014: The Internet of Things, Net Neutrality, and Why Marketers Need to Care.”

“In a world where not just conveniences but also essential services are channeled over the web, the free flow of data morphs from nicety into necessity,” argues Noah Elkin, eMarketer’s executive editor. “Framing the net neutrality debate solely in terms of maintaining low-cost streaming video overlooks the bigger picture. Today the issue is video streams, but tomorrow it will be about data streams in general.”

In other words, inexpensive on demand video streaming is nice to have — but when every function of one’s life and work depends on data available on demand, it’s no longer a discretionary matter.

“In a not-so-distant, more-connected future, consumers will rely on fast, reliable delivery of data to power their homes and perhaps even direct their self-driving cars,” eMarketer suggests. “Marketers will count on speed to buy and serve ad inventory; as with brokerage firms, the velocity of transactions will make a crucial difference in margins, fulfillment, and success.”

The decisions made by governing agencies, corporations, and other stakeholders could keep the road flowing for one and all — the only right decision in a world gone digital.