January 18, 2008
Posted by Bill Herman
David Isenberg has a great post on why Time Warner’s bandwidth-sensitive pricing plan is good.
The very short version is that it’s honest and a reasonable substitute for non-neutral packet discrimination, but the details will matter tremendously.
(Isen.blog link via Berkman Buzz)
UPDATE: I failed to mention the important caveat that bandwidth-sensitive pricing will not solve our bandwidth problems. We still need more capacity to keep up with growing demand and to fuel new digital innovations.
If we think end users are an important source of innovation (and they are), higher capacity for homes and small businesses is a brutally important part of our economic and cultural future.
The bandwidth-sensitive pricing will reduce congestion, but that problem is radically overstated. The continued popularity and usability of VoIP (despite it being continually invoked as the fragile traffic in need of protection) shows that the tubes are not exactly full.
Rather, the real problem is our general lack of growth in capacity. Other countries have really beaten us to the punch in subsidizing, requiring interconnection, and making other policy moves that have resulted in much faster growth in broadband adoption and network capacity for end users.
As bandwidth demand keeps growing, we still have a huge need to grow our capacity. Discriminating based on bandwidth, though, is a good interim solution for the reasons discussed above.
On a personal level, this is a wildly gratifying rebuff of Christopher Yoo’s suggestion that metering would just be too expensive to pull off. See Opening Bottlenecks, p. 146, for more.