For several years I’ve been becoming increasingly disgusted with the editorial stance of the Ann Arbor News. I’ve continued to subscribe because I wanted the local news and wanted to support the only local newspaper. But I am seriously tempted to give them the boot now. Among the issues I have with the news are:
-They endorsed shrub for president twice!
-They persist in carrying the editorial cartoons of Mike Shelton of the Orange County Register. Shelton is to cartooning as Ann Coulter is to writing
-Most of the stories they carry are straight off the AP Wire or reprinted from the New York Times or Washington Post, which in recent years have proved themselves increasingly un-trustworthy.
-Other than breaking news the re-purposed stories they carry are often at least days and often weeks old. Frequently I have already seen these stories on-line when they were first published.
The AA News has been contributing less and less of value to my life in the last couple of years. The most recent flub is the reprinting of a Washington Post editorial on net neutrality from a couple of days ago.
First of all if you are not familiar with the concept net neutrality means that internet service providers cannot discriminate about what sort of content you get over your net connection. If you want to do your searches on google that is your business. If you choose to search on yahoo or ask.com, they also should not have any say on that. The ISP provides a pipe with a given amount of bandwidth to you for a certain monthly fee. What you do with it is your decision. Companies like Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, YouTube and others also pay their own providers for bandwidth and connectivity. It is part of their cost of doing business. The architecture of the internet is one of connecting to the network and sending out and receiving packets. Everyone pays for their own connection. You don’t pay for your connection and someone at the other end of your connection. They pay for their own. Similarly you don’t charge someone else for sending data that has been requested by a customer has already paid you. In recent months the phone companies like AT&T and Verizon have been making noise about having content companies pay them to be able to send the data that their paying subscribers have requested. Their subscribers have already paid. The ISPs should now just step aside and send the packets.
The Post editorial came out strongly against net neutrality. They also made several outright lies and distortions. For example:
The advocates of neutrality suggest, absurdly, that a non-neutral Internet would resemble cable TV: a medium through which only corporate content is delivered. This analogy misses the fact that the market for Internet connections, unlike that for cable television, is competitive: More than 60 percent of Zip codes in the United States are served by four or more broadband providers that compete to give consumers what they want
This statement is based on a bogus FCC study, that counted all the providers serving a zip code region. The reality is that in most regions not all the providers in a given zip code serve every potential customer in that zip code. Most households usually have access to at best two broadband providers. In many cases they realistically only have one. I have had broadband access through comcast for about 5 years now. Only recently has SBC DSL become available to me and it is still not available at their highest speed tier to match what comcast offers. As a result I have had no real competitive options for broadband. From other people I know personally I know that this is not at all uncommon. Real broadband competition is more a theory than a fact for a very large proportion of Americans. I understand the economic reasons for this. Building out a network is not a cheap endeavor for a company. This is the same reason that utilities like phone and electrical service have been considered natural monopolies for over a century and have been regulated to prevent abuse by the owners of those monopolies. Real broadband competition is more a theory than a fact for a great many Americans and will remain so for the foreseeable future. As a result some basic consumer protections need to be in place to ensure that large (and growing through consolidation ) telecom companies cannot double dip on customers and content providers.
They should not be allowed do decide what kind of packets of data flow into or out their customers homes. They should be providing connections only. They can charge whatever prices they consider appropriate for the market for a given speed. The content of the packets is none of their business. The Post editorial board should be ashamed of themselves for writing this editorial in the first place and the AA News should be even more ashamed for reprinting this editorial.