The best argument for Net Neutrality I’ve read so far.

Found on Hacker News (all highlighting mine):

Assume for a moment that we had effective competition for ISPs, and almost everyone in the country could select among three or more ISPs. In a world that looked like that, restricting how ISPs can structure their networks is both unnecessary and potentially harmful, given the historical precedents of law tending to encode outdated assumptions about technology. (As a random example, some proposed versions of Network Neutrality rules I’ve seen would also stop CDNs from handing ISPs a box full of content or arranging fast links to their caching servers.) If we had effective competition for ISPs, any ISP engaging in any of the terrible behaviors NN advocates are genuinely concerned about would find themselves with an abrupt loss of customers.

The main problem is that we don’t have effective competition for ISPs; many people have only one choice, or two choices where one is also incredibly terrible for other reasons.

Personally, I’d like to see some focus on regulations to break ISP monopolies, and in particular to ensure that there’s an independent source of fiber to everyone’s door, with a wide selection of ISPs willing to light up that fiber. But until we have that, we need Network Neutrality to stop abuses by the current ISP monopolies.

And a follow-up comment summarizes it even more neatly:

Competition would fix this more effectively than net neutrality regs, but competition in ISPs is typically blocked by state-enforced monopoly laws or by the technical and economic challenge of deploying an ISP.

Wired ISPs are what is often termed a natural monopoly.

One solution would be to open up a lot more wireless spectrum to ISP use and license it to many upstarts. This would allow wireless alternatives to last-mile wired connectivity such as what would amount to neighborhood-scale WiFi. That would dramatically reduce cost of entry for the ISP business.

Until or unless we can find a way to open the ISP business to a lot more competition, net neutrality regulations are absolutely essential to preserve the Internet as a medium for open innovation.

It’s so simple, it’s brilliant: Until we have more and better competition between ISPs, we need Net Neutrality. That’s it. One thing that is important to not gloss over is the problems presented by state-enforced monopoly laws and the technical and economic challenges of deploying an ISP.

If your city or state government was stupid enough to sign some exclusive contract with an ISP, call your representative and remind them of the importance of free market competition. Fairly straightforward.

But the issue of the economic burden of establishing an ISP is a tougher nut to crack. Until someone else comes along offering a choice, to simply surrender control over your media access to companies in such a way that they would have no obligation to your rights as a customer and citizen is just as irrational as your local government forcing an ISP on you that you did not choose. If you believe in your right to choose in open markets, then net neutrality is the best, and so far only, place to start.