Throughout my technology career, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Open Source community. I was a big proponent of Linux in its early days, and even introduced multiple organizations to using it as a primary operating system for application and database servers. Therefore, things like open standards and net neutrality mean something to me.
For those unfamiliar with net neutrality, it is basically the concept that internet providers cannot give special advantage to one service over another, in the interest of promoting an open and free (as in freedom) internet. So for example, Comcast cannot give preferential treatment (such as faster bandwidth) to Netflix over Hulu just because Netflix pays them extra money. The idea of an open internet is that the pipes are free for any provider to use.
Some people have criticized T-Mobile for many of its promotional services, offering free music and video streaming from selected providers. However, I was willing to give them a bit of a pass because they don’t actually own any of the services that they’re streaming for free. They’re perfectly fine with getting more and more services on board because they’re using the free data as a way to attract people to their overall internet pipe, not one service over another.
This past week however, AT&T announced that DirectTV Now would be granted free access for any of their subscribers. Here’s the problem though, DirectTV is owned by AT&T, which means that by giving an advantage to DirectTV they are directly benefiting their own pocketbooks. This is what people have feared when it came to Net Neutrality and I can only hope that the government steps in and stops this from happening, although with a Trump administration I am doubtful.
An open internet is what made the internet what it is today. The freedom of anyone to participate in a great online community is what makes the internet something that we all can, and should, value for the future. The internet is a place of knowledge, both useful and inane, but it is that way because it is free and open. If you value an open internet, support net neutrality with your elected representatives and keep big money out.