2006.06.25: June 25, 2006: Headlines: Figures: COS - Swaziland: Business: Internet: Movies: Entrepreneurship: an Jose Mercury News: Reed Hastings says: Don't let the service providers discriminate on the Internet

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Reed Hastings says: Don't let the service providers discriminate on the Internet

Reed Hastings says: Don't let the service providers discriminate on the Internet

"During the last decade, the openness of the Internet has fundamentally changed our lives. The ease with which we can communicate, gather information and purchase goods and services online has enabled us to focus on other areas of our increasingly busy lives -- our families, our jobs, our hobbies. Today, we take for granted the convenience of the Internet. But we should not overlook that the basic principle of net neutrality has enabled the Internet innovations that produce great benefits for consumers and economic prosperity for our nation." Businessman and Internet Visionary Reed Hastings of California, the founder of Netflix, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Swaziland.

Reed Hastings says: Don't let the service providers discriminate on the Internet

Don't let the service providers discriminate on the Internet
By John Doerr and Reed Hastings

A debate about the future of the Internet is taking place now in our nation's capital, and American innovation as we know it is at stake. The debate is over ``net neutrality,'' an obscure term that refers to control of Internet content: What Web sites can be shown; what products can be displayed; what costs Internet consumers will pay.

The term may be arcane, but it is net neutrality that has ensured the Internet's growth as a vibrant, open and non-discriminatory marketplace since its inception. This longstanding principle of net neutrality is now under threat, and the implications for the Internet and for American innovation are profound.

During the last decade, the openness of the Internet has fundamentally changed our lives. The ease with which we can communicate, gather information and purchase goods and services online has enabled us to focus on other areas of our increasingly busy lives -- our families, our jobs, our hobbies. Today, we take for granted the convenience of the Internet. But we should not overlook that the basic principle of net neutrality has enabled the Internet innovations that produce great benefits for consumers and economic prosperity for our nation.

Until now, Internet content and services -- the Web sites you visit everyday -- have been free from interference or discrimination by network operators, the cable and phone companies that provide the on-ramps to the Internet marketplace. The Internet is an open, seamless global platform that allows millions of American businesses, especially small businesses, to flourish without significant barriers to entry.

Netflix began as a small online business and has grown and thrived -- because of net neutrality -- into a business that serves 5 million subscribers. Online presence allows users to have access to more than 60,000 DVD titles as compared with the on-average 2,500 titles in a video store. Filmmakers large and small also enjoy a new distribution channel for their films. Because Netflix is able to operate in the open, accessible Internet, more people can see more movies and more moviemakers can make movies for more people to see.

EBay presents another great example of the innovation and entrepreneurship that have thrived because of net neutrality. More than 724,000 U.S. small businesses use eBay as their primary or a significant secondary sales channel, while an additional 1.5 million Americans use eBay to supplement their income. Today, all any merchant needs is a good product or idea, and he or she can share it with the world. And because of net neutrality, consumers and the marketplace -- not giant cable and phone companies -- determine what ideas, products, services and Web sites will succeed.

Today, forces are at work to stake out future control of Web site traffic and eliminate the Internet's longstanding openness. Cable and phone companies are currently working on Capitol Hill to protect their ability to discriminate in the delivery or prioritization of Internet content based on its source or ownership. The giant cable and phone companies don't want Congress to limit their power to discriminate against Web sites. They want to be able to pick and choose the Internet content that travels via high-speed broadband.

Some telecom providers have already blocked access to low-cost Internet phone services, and others have blocked e-mails from groups opposing their policies regarding junk e-mail. These companies are threatening to do more, and they can because they control virtually all access to high-speed broadband.

Because of the unfettered power of phone and cable companies to control consumer access to Internet content, we need tailored safeguards that prevent network operators from discriminating in the delivery or prioritization of content based on source or ownership. We are not proposing a new, heavy-handed set of regulations. Consumers deserve tailored safeguards that prevent network operators from affirmatively blocking, degrading or impairing consumer access to the Internet content, services and applications of their choice or discriminating in the delivery of Internet content.

Reinstating the Internet's core principle of net neutrality won't stand in the way of innovation; indeed, net neutrality has, until recently, been the very foundation of Internet innovation.

Let's be clear: We also support innovation within networks, and we believe that the phone and cable companies should be able to provide non-discriminatory solutions that ensure privacy, security and traffic management for the consumer. Some of the large phone companies have announced new proprietary cable video services; we support these new competitive offerings. We also fully support enhanced features that improve the customer experience -- provided they are not based on discriminating between bits based on source or ownership over the Internet.

All of these new features give the large phone and cable companies added incentive to invest in next-generation broadband networks. The power to discriminate and to engage in anti-competitive control of Internet content is not a prerequisite to broadband deployment and it should not be an essential part of any company's business plan.

This is not a debate about imposing new regulations on the Internet. This is a debate about preserving a fundamental principle of openness and non-discrimination that has always been a foundation of the Internet's growth and vitality. At its core, this is a debate about competition, consumer choice and above all, the innovation that has been a hallmark of the Internet. is co-founder and CEO of Netflix. They wrote this article for the Mercury News.





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Story Source: an Jose Mercury News

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Figures; COS - Swaziland; Business; Internet; Movies; Entrepreneurship

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