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Maybe all the talk about net neutrality means opportunities

Let’s be honest, the main factor behind eliminating net neutrality is pure greed and control.

Internet Service Providers (ISP) like any other business, sometimes prefer not to invest in better infrastructure until they either absolutely have to such as seeing a competitive reason for doing so or when there are simply too many complaints.

There is little accountability for problems that can cost consumers, businesses and organizations and there is a bad practice of problems being admitted to only when they become too large to dismiss. Unreliable Internet costs everyone in many ways including the amount of time we have to spend troubleshooting and calling the provider support lines. Proving problems should not be on consumers backs yet here we are. 

For an ISP in an area with limited competition, there’s not much reason beyond cranky customer support calls, to upgrade the infrastructure. Without rules such as net neutrality, it becomes easier to throttle back access to high bandwidth sites or users who go beyond an acceptable usage level but worse, it can be quietly imposed which isn’t fair to consumers.

Now the talk is that providers could come up with premium packages for increased web access or may end up forcing online services to pay fees which in turn will trickle back down the consumers. As always, these moves end up costing us all, not only in terms of creating monopolies that limit our choices but also in that as these companies grow, they keep trying to make it harder for new initiatives to come to life, offering competitive services.

As consumers, we hold much of the blame for our lack of interest in this issue, hoping that others will stand up and fight for net neutrality while we’re busy streaming movies on our phones and hanging out on social media. It’s easy to think it won’t happen until it does.

So, what should we be worried about?

No rules in place not only allows providers to throttle bandwidth or charge more but it also opens the door to being paid to limit or block access to sites and information. It may start small or not seemingly affect us initially, but at what point do we create a tiered system of access to the Internet where everything is micro controlled by multiple companies before you ever get to it.

Imagine a service where your very own provider is being paid to block information, even working with search engines and others that control access to certain areas or demographics? Things could get out of hand very quickly.

Having the ability to prevent people from voicing opinions, enjoying freedom of speech and sharing information should not be overlooked. While it may not be in the ISP’s interest to block customers, if there is enough money being paid to make these efforts worthwhile, these things could easily be done.

Community Broadband

So, where does this leave those who would like to buy services from companies that aren’t going to earn their keep through such methods? The answer could be with cities, communities and or consumers working together to bypass local Internet providers.

Telcos and broadband companies do all they can to prevent competition in their areas which is something that may need to be addressed. Assuming palms are not being greased in local government, new network operators can work toward getting permissions and what ever permits may be needed in order to establish their own private Internet offerings.

Citizens may also need to stand up to possible push-back from their own city officials and typically that can be done by voting those who don’t help out of office.

The Internet is just one network

The Internet is just a network of interconnected networks, machines and services. There have been many propositions and even efforts such as mesh communications and others to build new networks. Many already exist. Of course, we dilute the incredible amounts of information we have access to by going down this road and eventually, someone will connect those independent networks back to the Internet which is quite circular.

Before all that happens, the first step is to get control of what we already have and bypass the local operators if they are going to play the access control game. There needs to be a movement in every community to starve these companies of the easy money they make on consumer grade best effort delivery Internet services while at the same time, creating an opportunity for new jobs. We could easily get back to the early days of smaller, local ISP’s that work very hard to keep their customers happy.

Community based Internet services

This may not be an option in all areas but there are many locations which are well connected enough that a person, groups of people or city could purchase third party connectivity from any number of brokers/vendors which come with SLA.

Many cities are now bundling their own fiber networks when construction begins in new neighborhoods or have started doing so regardless. Copper can be provisioned with the local Telco and wireless can also be used where direct connection is not possible. Wireless speeds are continuously getting faster and is much less expensive than dealing with digging up the streets.

Net neutrality, one area at a time

Technicians can always work out what would be required for X number of people using services such as NetFlix and others to come up with a reasonable per user bandwidth, price and of course overall throughput.

Data plans are a money making opportunity for ISP’s which private services could potentially eliminate. Making sure that everyone gets what they pay for would also be based on certain criteria for a customer base. Heavy users would either have to pay more as usual or continue on with their current ISP.

However, instead of access to information and sites being limited in certain ways, everyone would have full and open access without concern that the local provider is somehow limiting them. No quiet throttling, no unfair slowdowns because there isn’t enough throughput to handle all of the customers. Best of all, no provider playing around with what you can or cannot get access to, everything would be above board and transparent.

Well, that’s the hope at least and it starts by having the right people in place with such efforts.

How can Outages.io help?

First, Outages.io can help neighborhoods to put together facts and information to determine how the local provider or providers are doing. This could help to make a case to the provider or to form a plan of action toward starting a broadband initiative.

Second, any new provider must offer highly reliable Internet in order to sway consumers to make changes. Outages.io can be used to determine if there are problems some or many areas, alerting IP personnel about connectivity issues and other problems from their customers perspective and key point locations to help operators maintain and refine their systems.

New broadband providers competing for market share must ensure their services are reliable in order to gain consumer confidence and motivate people to buy and then stay with their new provider. Outages.io can be used stand alone or with existing monitoring as an inexpensive redundant way of receiving alerts to problems before customers start calling.

No large budgets needed

Our small embedded hardware agents are easily installed where ever needed and are especially useful in equipment cabinets where there are no PC/Servers to install software on.

Unlike PCs running software, hardware agents don’t get accidentally turned off, missing important events. They automatically update, can be remotely rebooted and run 24/7 using under one amp of power. Perfect for remote, unmanned locations or locations which have a limited amount of power such as solar.

Hardware agents act as simple LAN clients monitoring connectivity and cannot inspect packets. Outages as short as one second are logged showing when, where and with whom problems are occurring, including upstream networks. Details include problem hops, IP’s trends and historical details.

Proof of concept

We welcome proof of concept projects which help show the usefulness of Outages.io. The best way of discovering how we can help is to contact us. We’d love to send you some agents then demonstrate how powerful our solution can be for you.