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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Net Neutrality?

Uploaded: Mar 2, 2015

"Net Neutrality" is a phrase we've been seeing a lot these days. The FCC just voted in favor of keeping the Internet neutral by designating it a "Utility" like the telephone or electric company. Some people are very happy about this and some are not. It primarily depends on which side of the political fence you are.

Our Express Publisher, Gina Channel-Allen, wrote a commentary on net neutrality six months ago. Now that the FCC has made its decision, Gina seems less enthusiastic about it than I expected her to be.

Bill Johnson, President of Embarcadero Media, which publishes the Palo Alto Weekly, the Pleasanton Weekly, and all of the online versions of them, should be happy or at least relieved that our online newspapers won't be shunted off onto the slow lane. That's one of the things Net Neutrality protects. Everyone gets the same internet speed whether you are rich or poor. No Lamborghinis on the Internet now.

I'm not sure what the fuss is about charging deep pocket websites a premium for higher speed downloads. I've been using the Internet since 1981. Yes that's not a misprint, 1981. I hooked up my Apple II+ to a little red modem and connected that to my telephone line. If I needed to download something from a website, I would just leave it connected all night. Worked fine.

In those days there were no graphics, no pretty colors or designs, just yellow text on black or green monitors. I may be old, but I'm tech savvy. Nothing is as slow as an old phone line modem, so downloading a website on the slow lane wouldn't bother me much.

But younger people these days are spoiled. Even I get a little impatient when the broken computer graphic pops up and asks if I want to "Kill Pages or Wait." So slow speeds would hurt small startups that couldn't afford higher prices for high speed connections and local online news groups like the Pleasanton Weekly or Danville/San Ramon Express might lose impatient readers to the SF Chronicle.

I subscribe to a lot of investment newsletters, hoping to get rich in the stock market, which so far has eluded me. Since these newsletters provide advice on how to make a killing in the market, they tend to be anti-regulation.

Michael Robinson's latest issue of "Strategic Tech Investor" decries Net Neutrality. "In November, President Barack Obama came out in support of net neutrality, declaring that the Internet was a 'telecommunications service.' So, we were expecting this free-market meddling."

The other side of Net Neutrality is preventing potential censorship. Maybe critics are upset because left field websites will be able to spew their liberal philosophies just as easily as well-healed conservative websites. Horrors!

I don't think that matters much since most of the population has already made up its collective minds towards one side or the other. As the old football cheer goes, "Lean to the left. Lean to the right. Stand up, Sit down, Fight! Fight! Fight!" So yes the fighting will continue without suppressing one side or the other. Thanks to net neutrality, nothing will change.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Formerly Dan from BC, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Formerly Dan from BC is a registered user.

"Maybe critics are upset because left field websites will be able to spew their liberal philosophies just as easily as well-healed conservative websites. Horrors! "

Web Link <---small sample of very popular left wing/liberal websites.

I myself peruse some of these just to get a different (and often mistaken) perspective of what the other side thinks.

Your statement is curious in that you seem the think the web is dominated by right wing sites when in fact, it's pretty even left/right. There's no shortage of opinion from either side.

Let's look at the detail of the actual regs before we start hailing this as a good or bad solution.

Posted by Gina Channell-Allen, president of the Pleasanton Weekly,
on Mar 2, 2015 at 12:43 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

Perhaps I am less enthusiastic. Definitely very wary.

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


I was planning to change that to include both right and left websites, but it was 2 am and my bedtime.

I haven't checked out most of the sites on your link, but I'm on the email list for the Daily Kos. I don't disagree with everything there, but I do find a lot of the comments annoying.

I might look at The Maddowblog. Rachel Maddow is in my opinion second only to Jon Stewart as the smartest political commentator around. Does he have a blog?

I'm really a mix of liberal and conservative. I'm a fiscal conservative regarding government. I'm for local control and less Federal meddling, but I am also socially liberal, and value the First Amendment over the Second, which I consider frequently and intentionally misinterpreted.


Posted by MLOliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 5, 2015 at 8:39 am


I was a couple of years behind you in using the "world wide web" with my Apple II. I can still hear that nasty squeaking and squawking in my ears we had with dial-up. I drank way too much coffee while waiting for a connection, and like you, if it was a large download, I hoped it would be there in the morning. The speed about doubled with my first Mac, an SE30 and a new modem, but it was still a snail's pace (furlong per fortnight) compared to today's internet. I don't know very much about the precepts of Net Neutrality, but I hope it doesn't slow things down for everyone to keep things even.

Like you, I resent government intrusion with stuff that seems to be working well.


Posted by jake, a resident of Alamo,
on Mar 5, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Most people have no idea what net neutrality is but they are for it. The really big users that take a lot of bandwidth (for example Amazon, Netflix,...) coined "net neutrality", after all who could be against neutrality? This way they get to pay the same rate as individuals. If you use the highway system as an analogy it would be like saying big semi trucks are the same as a subcompact; they should pay the same registration fee, use all the lanes and the same speed limit as cars. The reality is that the roads and bridges are designed based on truck usage therefore must be stronger and more durable than and therefore cost more than if only cars were using them. So net neutrality will, in effect, subsidizes big users at the expense of the small ones. Some argue that the consumer benefits by let's say Netflix keeping the rates down; don't hold your breath, they just raised it and their stock is doing very well!

Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 6, 2015 at 2:09 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.


Net Neutrality has two forks. One is charging for bandwidth and the other is limiting access to alternative viewpoints. You can't have both. So people with no money should be able to reach as many readers/viewers as people with lots of money.

Sure Netflix and Amazon want their customers to be able to stream videos without costing more for the additional bandwidth. But I can also post political videos with no extra charge for to download them.

Netflix and Amazon can afford it, or more likely would pass the additional cost to customers, meaning lower income customers would not be able to afford it. I could not afford to post my political videos or hardly anyone would be able to afford to view them. Keeping everyone, rich, poor, or in between, on the same playing field, is a better model for the internet in my opinion.


Posted by Angelina Diva, a resident of another community,
on Mar 11, 2015 at 6:01 pm

Let's see: Government oversight of a brand new Utility? What could possibly go wrong? I am expecting more and more regulation of the Net over the coming years. The cute notion of speed "neutrality" [big guy vs. little guy] will be forgotten in 20 years.

We can all expect to subsidize the Internet of millions and millions of "disenfranchised" Americans, as we already do for electricity, gas and telephone.

Expect higher bills, America. This is how one party buys votes, after all.

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