Back at SES Chicago, one of the keynote speakers, David Isenberg focused his presentation on the issue of Network Neutrality. One of the more interesting aspects of his presentation was how little those of us in the industry think about this issue.
Yet, if the telcos succeed in violating network neutrality, it will blow up the web experience as we know it. The consumer will no longer be in control on the web, and an era of innovation will be sorely impacted. Can you imagine Facebook being successful if the bandwidth to access it is controlled by a telco that is offering a competing service? Or, the telco will not give the service enough bandwidth to work properly unless they pay additional fees?
Additionally, in the current web environment, the consumer has virtually unlimited choice. The biggest challenge that the consumer faces is sifting through all the choices, but with choice, comes power. In a world where the consumer is loaded with power, the companies that want their business must truly compete for it. If the choice starts to become limited, then the power of the consumer will fade with it.
Greg Jarboe of SEO-PR and I spoke with Mr. Isenberg after his keynote. One thing that we all agreed upon was that the current telco companies are not well adapted to capitalizing on the web as it is, and they view the current web environment as a threat to their continued growth.
Worse still, these companies have large war chests, and the people they are working on selling their story to are the members of congress. Unfortunately, many of those in our congress are not particularly web savvy, so they may not understand the web as it exists today, and how critical that is to the innovation and growth that we are experiencing, and to consumer control (and therefore consumer rights).
Hopefully, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and others have their eye on the ball on this one.