Second Life and High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale just made a strong public statement in support of preserving net neutrality, the Obama-era regulation that preserves an affordable Internet for American consumers by prohibiting ISPs from charging extra for different Internet sites and services. Ajit Pai, Trump's appointee to head of the FCC (and formerly a lawyer for Verizon), is moving forward on his announced plans to scrap net neutrality, arguing that it will encourage competition and new Internet services. Rosedale, however, argues it will do just the opposite -- and adversely impact users of MMOs/social VR/virtual world platforms like Second Life and High Fidelity:
"The end of net neutrality would be especially negative for high bandwidth services like SL and High Fidelity that are delivered by less powerful companies," he tells me. "I would not be surprised to see providers with no competition simply re-introduce by-the-megabyte billing for 'non-premium' services, taking us all the way back to the stone age of AOL and other early online services. "
The "no competition" part is key, because a majority of Americans do not have a meaningful choice between competing broadband services. As Rosedale explains:
Many americans have only one internet provider. Removing the requirement for net neutrality would allow their opinions to be biased by the provider. Unbiased information will become a privilege of the rich. This is against everything we stand for as a country.— Philip Rosedale (@philiprosedale) November 29, 2017
"We cannot be competitive as a country if providers effectively remove generalized internet service and return us to the age of online services for a large part of the population," says Rosedale. "This is one of those increasingly rare situations where a true monopoly still exists, as used to be the case with telephone service, for example. We absolutely must preserve net neutrality until such time as every American can choose from multiple competitive internet providers."
Philip's last point is an especially good one, as it acknowledges the valid points of both pro and anti-net neutrality advocates. In principle, it would be good to give consumers better and different options over their Internet services and how much they cost. But as it stands, the major ISPs who maintain a virtual monopoly on the market will have little incentive to offer those -- except at higher and higher prices.
Concerned? Consider contacting your Congressperson.