GIBERT: The Truth About Net Neutrality

Editor’s Note: A guest post by Gerard Gibert, CEO of Venture Technologies, an IT Solutions Provider and Cloud Services Provider headquartered in Ridgeland, MS – and a critic of Net Neutrality.

Lots of folks are melting down about the repeal of Net Neutrality. Many fear that repeal will lead to a fee-for-service model for certain services that consume bandwidth, especially rich content providers such as NetFlix, YouTube, etc. Here’s my take.

Let me preface this with a quick definition: Net Neutrality is the principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites.

First, without government, the cost of bandwidth has plummeted. I remember working with customers that needed large dedicated pipes (45Mb OC3 ATM technology) in the late nineties. $25,000/month. Today, you can get fiber to your home offering 1Gb for ~$100/month.

We will never have to pay for it or most on-line services. In fact, I look for a time in the future where Internet access is totally free (at higher speeds than today). Think about tools like DropBox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. that avail terabytes of storage merely for supplying your email address – totally free. (I predicted free on-line storage services 10 years ago).

Why? Big Data, Data Analytics, Predictive Analytics and other data modeling sciences are driving new forms/points of promotion, capturing your wallet share and mind. Simple economics. This paradigm shift is driving new business opportunities (a twinkle in the eye today) that could literally make one a billionaire from their home.

There are incredible innovative networking technologies in the works that are going to not only boost the price/performance of bandwidth, but offer new, novel routes to connect to the Internet. Look for very high speed connections via new wireless architectures that will rival today’s fiber performance. Eventually, we’ll see connectivity – even mobile devices – via the copper electrical grid.

Finally, and MOST importantly, government is an inhibitor to innovation. Yes, the Internet was originally developed for military use and through the years, some new technology was created by the public sector and eventually commercialized, but virtually all of that was waaaay before the private economy that exists today, and tons of willing investors waiting to fund the next Facebook.

Consider this, we would had cell phones decades before they were introduced if the FCC wouldn’t have squashed the idea…in 1947 – conceived and spec’d in detail by Bell Labs.

Thanks, bureaucrats. Good riddance, Net Neutrality.

Sorry to beat this Net Neutrality thing to a pulp, but indulge me while I state the case for free markets in a little clearer terms, then then I’ll move on:

There is a fiber glut. Today 1Gb is available for about $100 per month at my residence in Ridgeland, Mississippi, the poorest state in the Union. Carriers are falling all over themselves to build out new, higher speed networks – both wireless and wired – with novel approaches to connect our world and the billions of devices that power it. Venture just completed deployment of a secure, high-speed network linking 400 sites of a home health care provider using SDN Cisco Meraki technology to connect at 40Mb – 100Mb speeds via VPN to the corporate core in Baton Rouge.

Our customer Switch Networks. (www.switch.com) will be offering 10Gbps circuits at 4-millisecond latency to Silicon Valley/San Francisco at a ridiculous $950 per month. That would have cost $100k/month (if it were available 10 years ago). Same for L.A., Seattle, Las Vegas, Phoenix and the entire western United States.

Net Neutrality really doesn’t address access to bandwidth. It simply allows carriers to discern between content providers in pricing use of their network. And, most of these content providers have their own networks within the carrier’s networks.

Net Neutrality is like forcing a doctor to charge the same for brain surgery as they do for a blood pressure test. Forcing an auto dealer to charge the same price for a Yugo as they do a Ferrari. A builder to charge the same for a kitchen remodel as they do for a 35-room estate.

With (multiple) pools. And tennis courts.

Any further questions, see socialism vs free markets.

To those that feel that the Internet is some sort of public highway, take note.

The Internet highway is a collection of multiple networks. Networks are comprised of massive IT Compute/Network/Storage infrastructure. Switches, routers, servers, software, storage devices, network management software, monitoring tools, load balancers, access points, controllers, QoS devices/software, virtualization tools, countless categories and forms of security devices and software. Massive cabling plants both in and outside.

Venture, as a Cisco Gold/Master Partner sells much of this infrastructure. Over 50,000 products. And they change… Every. Single. Day. $100mm annual run rate for us now.

Carriers own the network and the assets that deliver the content you enjoy. Thus, they should be allowed to charge for use of it however they please – without government intrusion. Most Americans have multiple choices of carriers. Don’t like one, choose another. And soon, the choices will expand with the introduction of new technologies.

For several years,Venture delivered Internet access via outdoor Point-to-Point LOS (Line of Sight) RF wireless to the entire JPS school system. 100Mb for $12k/month – FOR the entire JPS 50+ schools plus administration. Still *FAR* less than the wired Internet access available at the time.

We installed a 200′ tower at the JSU eCenter that hosted an Access Point that transmitted to an Access Point on the tower on top of the JSU Admin building on campus that connected to another AP on the 1000′ CommuniGroup tower downtown, which then connected to JPS headquarters on State Street. The technology was specifically built for outdoor IP RF communications by Proxim – a company later acquired. Venture *owned* this network. Owned these assets. Paid professional tower climbers to install the APs. Paid rent to the purveyors of the towers. Monitored, remedied issues, maintained spare APs – everything necessary to ensure 7/25/365 continuous access. Capitalism.

But some six years later, new technology at a much lower price point rendered this architecture obsolete.

We pay taxes for roadways. But the silly government *STILL* charges tolls on select roads. And continues to raise my taxes to build more and maintain those roads. In Mississippi, certainly at the county level, often without competitive bid. Seems it’s never enough. Captive market, we the taxpayers!

The free market is always the best and only fair arbiter of the transfer of goods and services between parties.

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