The forces of net neutrality regulations warn of ISPs discriminating among content providers, but what about content providers demanding payment from ISPs to carry their stuff?
Unlike the theoretical problem that motivates the neuts, this one is very real:
A little more than a week ago I had a Net neutrality debate with Russell Shaw. Russell Shaw speculated that there had to be some sort of Net neutrality violation going on and that the ISPs were locking ESPN out without some sort of special contract. In Russell’s blog, he speculates:
“My guess is that ESPN360 and Comcast did not come to a licensing agreement. It was ESPN360 that refused to pony up.”
But as I dug a little deeper and discussed the issue with some fellow bloggers Matt S and Richard Bennett and looked around on ESPN360, I came to a startling thought: Could this be a case of reverse Net neutrality service blocking? If this is the case then Russell might be right about a neutrality violation, but he may have gotten the role of the perpetrator and victim backwards.
It appears that what’s happening is ESPN demanding payment from ISPs for access to this service. So where are the regulations to prevent this kind of tiering of the Internet? Google? Yahoo? eBay? You folks are awfully quiet all of a sudden.
Somebody give Charlie Gonzalez a call, he’s the hero on this problem.