Truax Talks: Net Neutrality or Net Neutering?

STEVEN GORANSKY,   POLITICAL WRITER

Cory Truax stays busy. Cory Truax stays very busy between performing his duties as a Admissions Counselor at North Greenville University, pastor at Beechwood Church in Easley and finally hitting the radio airwaves at 8 a.m. on Saturday mornings to host “The Cory Truax Show”.

 As a faithful listener to “The Cory Truax Show” I value hearing insights into the complex political issues that face us today. Truax is gifted at researching his topics and always seems to be able to add some stats and figures to a story to put things in context. I always ask Truax to offer his perspectives to the “The Vision NGU” if there is a topic that particularly piques his interest. The latest developments of Net Neutrality are one of those prickly subjects. I asked Cory Truax to break down this confusing story for the NGU student body.

“The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently voted 3-2 to change how the government regulates and interacts with companies that provide internet access to consumers. The rules they instituted are referred to as “Net Neutrality.

 “Let’s start with a definition and the players involved. The Net Neutrality rules force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) never to give faster internet access to any website or to slow down access to any website. This is how it works in practice.

 “Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr and others want you to visit their sites. We, the consumers, want to visit Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr. Comcast, AT&T, Verizon and other ISPs connect us. They, the ISPs, spent the time and money (tens of billions of dollars) to build the infrastructure (called “pipes” in the industry slang) to deliver those websites to us. They are also spending further billions to make those internet connections faster. In exchange for bringing us together, we, the consumers, pay the ISPs.”

 “With the new rules, the ISPs cannot treat sites differently. So, Comcast and Verizon cannot give differing priority access to www.ngu.edu or www.netflix.com. Comcast and Verizon built the pipes to deliver the internet, but they can no longer control the access to the pipes they built.”

 I understand that this is where we are at today but how will things change in the future, I asked.

Truax continues “Supporters of Net Neutrality argue that the ISPs will, at some point in the future, slow down certain websites and speed up access to others. And they say the government should not allow Comcast or Verizon to do such a thing with their own pipes. They say all websites must be treated equally. This is the primary – almost only – reasoning in favor of instituting these rules. This argument, and the others in favor of Net Neutrality, is faulty for several reasons. Let me share four.

 “First, Net Neutrality is a solution desperately in search of a problem. We do not actually have a problem with ISPs slowing sites down. We do have a system where certain website can pay the ISPs to get faster access to consumers – which has only benefited us, the users of the Internet."

 Truax offered a good example of this:

“The event of an ISP slowing down a website has happened exactly one notable time. And that was Comcast slowing down Netflix. At peak viewing hours, Netflix was so popular that it was using over 50 percent of all bandwidth Comcast had. Fathom that: for the country’s largest Internet Provider, one website out of endless millions took up over half of the Internet. Comcast told Netflix they would have to pay more if they were going to keep using that bandwidth.

“In a fairly short negotiation, Netflix agreed to pay an undisclosed yearly amount to Comcast. Comcast didn’t just restore Netflix’s regular speed. They made it even faster. Literally everyone involved won.

“Comcast got paid for their services. Netflix satisfied their customers even more than they did previously. And we, the customer, watched old 'Breaking Bad' and 'Walking Dead' episodes in higher definition with a better connection.

“When websites want access to us, the customers, and want to pay more for that access, Comcast, Verizon, AT&T and others should have the right to give them that access. These rules forbid it.”

 This was a great example that I know we all can relate to. Truax continued.

“Second, the free-market will certainly settle any dispute to the benefit of consumers.

“If the Net Neutrality supporters end up being correct and an ISP starts to slow down access to things we want, we already have a solution: get a different ISP. If AT&T gets into a dispute with Buzzfeed and slows down their content to my computer, I will switch to a new Internet provider. And so will many others.

“As ISPs see the consequences of limiting their customers’ access to content, they will change their ways. We don’t need any help from the FCC to settle these disputes.  The free-market system is completely capable of arbitrating these disputes in a way that serves us: internet users. “

 Truax moved forward to his third point.

“Third, the method whereby Net Neutrality was enacted is dubious. The Internet and how it works is integral to almost everyone’s daily life. Just stop for a moment to think about how much you rely on the web. Three unelected officials just voted to change how the Internet works. No three people should wield that much power.

“Additionally, the rules the FCC released are over 300 pages. Why would it take 300 pages to say ISPs cannot treat websites differently? It shouldn’t. So what all is in these rules? They were passed without any transparency.”

Now Truax explained his fourth point.

“Fourth, regulation is the enemy of innovation. When the FCC regulated telecommunications (the phone) in the 1930s and 40s, we saw very little innovation in the phone for many years. Ask your parents. We progress to from short phones cords to long phones cords and changed from rotary-dialed phones to fancy touch-tone dial phones.

“Then the regulations began to expire late in the 1900s, and the ingenuity in the phone industry exploded. Check your pocket right now. You have just the latest in innovation on the phone.

“Net Neutrality will do the same to the Internet. We need Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T to continue having a motive to improve the Internet. Net Neutrality removes a great deal of their profit motive. The FCC might have just frozen the Internet in place.”

 Truax finished his thoughts in this way.

“To close, you may have grown up with ready Internet access. Do not take it for granted. The Internet might be the most important development the US has ever offered to the world. It is certainly in the top three. The Internet is incredible. We should not let the FCC ruin it.”

 Cory Truax did a great job of breaking down the business aspects of Net Neutrality but I fear there are more sinister political objectives at work here. Google is already known for pushing liberal biased sites and articles to the top of search inquiries while pushing the conservative biased sites and articles low on search results. Net Neutrality also intends to be a sort of internet grading system and police enforcement unit all in one. They intend to label news sources as either valid or invalid. Who will make these decisions?

We are talking censorship, folks. We have just gone through the most radical left wing assaults on American freedoms in 200 years. The 2014-midterm elections were a huge pushback against the broad power grabs and the people spoke clearly. They do not want the federal government taking so much power away from the states. Socialized healthcare and now a government-controlled media police are very reminiscent of pre- WW2 Germany. Net Neutrality is ultimately about controlling what information that we have access to and there is nothing neutral about it.