03
Jun
14

The Tiger Weighs In On Net Neutrality

NetNeutralityLast week (or was it the week before…?) I posted that video about SOLAR FRIKKIN’ ROADWAYS, a pretty genius idea that an engineering couple came up with to replace roads with solar panels.

I wrote about their mission to provide the world with huge amounts of clean energy whilst addressing a whole other stack of environmental issues and ended the post saying I was going to donate $10 to their cause.

At that stage they had raised a total of about $260k of their $1m target and had 11 days left. A week later they were over the $1.5m mark and have extended the donation period by another 20 days – all because of me!

Hahaha, what an asshole. No, it wasn’t all because of me, but I felt proud to have played a part in it because I did donate that $10 in the end and it felt good to get off my lazy ass for a change and actually try and affect change in the world.

 

 

Last night I found out about another pretty hectic cause that definitely could use some support and that’s the whole debate about Net Neutrality (or the proposed lack thereof) that’s been raging for over a year now.

I’ve seen it mentioned all over the internet and was dimly aware that it was a Very Bad Thing but never really took the time to dig a little deeper and find out what it’s actually about.

That was before I watched the video below which, though it’s a bit of a longy, is DEFINITELY worth watching if you a) Love the internet and b) You don’t like the idea of paying through your ass in order to surf the sites you love at a speed that won’t make you want to tear your eyes out.

Here, check it:

 

 

Yes, ol’ John Oliver gets a little much, but all-in-all I was really glad I watched this video because I realised why I haven’t really cared about this issue – it’s been handled in a painfully boring way so that the fucks we all give stay at an all-time low.

But if you actually stop and think about what this means for our experience of the internet going forward it’s pretty shocking.

I did some more digging to find out how South Africa specifically will be effected because we’re so far away from the epicentre of the internet (ie. the States, Europe and Asia) and found a great article here called “Net Neutrality in Africa” that goes into some detail about how this issue could effect SA.

The long and the short of it is that Africa has never really experienced Net Neutrality in its purest form. Up until 2009, the only internet cable coming into SA was the SAT3 cable which was choked so heavily by local telcos that internet speeds were a total joke compared to other parts of the world.

 

 

With the introduction of the Seacom undersea cable, internet speeds started to increase whilst bandwidth prices started to decrease significantly (except for mobile bandwidth, which is still ludicrously expensive).

HOWEVER, though most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) brought “unlimited” data bundle offerings to the table at seemingly competitive prices, these bundles were “shaped”. In other words, the internet speeds were being throttled during certain times or after users had downloaded a certain amount of data.

So, in essence, South Africans are no strangers to what it’s like to have our internet slowed down by the powers that be, but still, what the cable companies in America are proposing is a thousand times worse.

 

 

It might take some time for the effects to be felt in SA, but when it does happen, the most likely scenario is that local ISPs will start to offer packages where users will pay for their line rental, pay for their monthly bandwidth and then pay extra for high speed access to sites like YouTube, Facebook, etc.

If I understand the issue correctly, it will also mean that smaller sites like your pal Slicky-T will have to one day cough to have their sites loaded onto the high-speed tier or the sites will load like shit and never be able to compete with the big dogs.

Bottom line, I’m hitting up fcc/gov.comments the minute work stops trying to bugger me in the arse and I’m taking a stand.

So tell your friends. Maybe it makes a difference, maybe it doesn’t, but there’s only one way to find out…

-ST


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