Not like it's going to do much good, but DK reminded me by email (Thank you!) that we need to send sincerely written letters to the FCC in support of Net Neutrality. So what I sent myself is below the fold. I had to throw it together real fast as I am at work, but all of us should try to do the same thing while there is still time. Please don't just copy and paste a letter; and good luck. Here's the URL:
This is to let you know that I believe the only way to keep a thriving technology industry and a growing national economy is to maintain basic Net Neutrality as it currently stands and how it has been understood for the last 20 years since the Internet started becoming a force for growth in the US economy.
An entire economic sector that employs millions of people depends on a growing internetwork which up till now has been safeguarded by Net Neutrality. For the last 20 years, companies such as Cisco, Juniper, VMware, Extreme Networks, untold numbers of security firms such as Palo Alto Networks, Symantec, and Verisign; a cloud of recent public companies such as Arista, Infoblox, and Fireeye; all base their business models on a free and growing Internet which even now shows no signs of a growth ceiling. Continuance of that growth requires regulatory oversight to prevent rent-seeking by a few large companies wanting to capture the additional growth that is now shared by many more. By doing so, they will strangle growth in its cradle and fundamentally destroy our country's - and its companies' - ability to globally compete.
The fundamental issue is that the few companies that manage the backbone of the Internet - AT&T, Verizon and a few others - do not wish to continue investing in a growing network, even though they are among the most profitable companies in America. Instead, they prefer to create an artificial scarcity by drastically slowing down their investments in capacity - a factor that indicates the continued growth of the Internet, by the way - and forcing the entire rest of the United States economy to pay them, the gatekeepers, for the rights to acceptably fast delivery of their traffic. They can do this because the telecommunications industry in the US is almost completely consolidated and in a position to impose punitive costs on anyone who wants to use their network.
We know how this story ends. It is the reason why Judge Vaughn Walker issued his historic 1980 decision breaking up the AT&T monopoly. Before 1980, there was no technology industry except for the personal computer. Networking was not even in its infancy, and the middle-class job base was already beginning to shrink due to offshoring of entire industries such as semiconductor and automotive production. The cutting-edge in those days was the SS7 switch - a technology that had existed for over three decades. There was no other meaningful networking technology except the PSTN. AT&T's dead hand lay everywhere on the technology landscape. A mere decade after AT&T was broken up, suddenly a host of startup companies began experimenting with the new IP protocols that had recently been invented. Companies such as Compuserve and AOL acquired a new lease on life. Personal computer companies suddenly had a new growth vector, semiconductor companies had a new market - switches and routers - to sell their chips into, and middle-class engineers, sales and creatives had a chance to extend their careers into new fields. Very few of these people would ever have had a chance to work for a monopolistic AT&T, because really, there were relatively few jobs to be had.
All of this would be killed off and the AT&T monopoly will be completely restored if Net Neutrality is not kept and strengthened. Over the following years, if you kill Net Neutrality, it is very likely that a huge chunk of what remains of the American middle-class job base will be killed off, with baleful effects on our economy. Startups will not be able to afford the additional transport costs, strangling innovation on the West Coast and the Eastern seaboard. Across the Internet, there will be a class-based economic discrimination system. Individual users of the Internet will be forced to pay more and more for less and worse service. Already, the United State lags behind even France in terms of the average broadband speed into people's homes.
As a technical worker myself, this issue is of prime importance to me. I strongly urge you to make the right decision and preserve - and strengthen - Net Neutrality. The needs of Verizon and AT&T are not the same as the needs of the country. Your nation depends upon you making the right decision.