Tim Wu Discusses the Current State of the Net Neutrality Rules

By TAP Staff Blogger

Posted on May 7, 2013


In his article for The New Yorker, Columbia University law professor Tim Wu discusses the current state of the net neutrality rules. In “The Coming War Over Net Neutrality,” Professor Wu states that the net neutrality rules are “a pricing truce for the Internet; without them, we can expect a fight that will serve no one’s interests and will ultimately stick consumers with Internet bills that rise with the same speed as cable television’s.”

Professor Wu explains the value of net neutrality:

An important aspect of the Internet’s original design is that many prices were set at zero—what have been called zero-price rules. The price to join the network is zero. The price that users and sites pay to reach others is zero: a blogger doesn’t need to pay to reach Comcast’s customers. And the price that big Web sites charge broadband operators to carry their content is also zero. It’s a subtle point, but these three zeros are a large part of what makes the Internet what it is. If net neutrality goes away, so does the agreement to freeze prices at zero.

Think of it this way: net neutrality, which sets all these prices at zero, is effectively a grand truce between the big app firms and the infrastructure providers. It eliminates an unnecessary middleman: consumers deal directly with content vendors and app firms.

Finally, and most importantly for the public, the net-neutrality rule continues to provide a kind of subsidy to smaller speakers and startups, from bloggers to Quora and Wikipedia. The Internet would look a lot different if these kinds of players had to pay cable before reaching their customers. It would start to look a lot more like cable TV, and few things could really be worse than that.

Read the full article on The New Yorker: “The Coming War Over Net Neutrality.”

Tim Wu is the Isidor and Seville Sulzbacher Professor of Law at Columbia University Law School. His fields of interest are the Internet, media & communications industries, and international trade. He is the author of The Master Switch (2010), co-author of Who Controls the Internet (2006), and author of Net Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination (2002). In 2006, Wu was recognized by Scientific American for his work on network neutrality theory.