Joho the BlogOrganic Net Neutrality - Joho the Blog

Organic Net Neutrality

I’ve started blogging at Ting.com, the only mobile access provider I actually like. I’ll tell you why in a moment. But first, here’s the opening of my first post:

There are two types of Net Neutrality. Supporters of it (like me) spend most of their time arguing for Artificial Net Neutrality: a government policy that regulates the few dominant providers of access to the Internet. In fact, we should be spending more of our time reminding people that before Artificial Net Neutrality the Internet came by its neutrality naturally, even organically.

To see the difference, you have to keep in mind, (as my friend Doc Searls frequently reminds me) that Net Neutrality refers not only to a policy but to a fundamental characteristic of the Internet. The Internet is an inter-network: local networks agree to pass data (divided into packets) without discriminating among them, so that no matter what participating network you’re plugged into, you can always get and send information anywhere else on the Net. That’s the magic of the Net…

In fact, it’s because the creators of the Internet didn’t try to anticipate what people would use it for that it has become the greatest engine of creativity and wealth in recorded history…

The piece goes on to cite Seth Johnson whose nice way of explaining the distinction is at the heart of the post. Thanks, Seth!

 


Now, why I like Ting. It was created by my friend Elliot Noss, who also founded Tucows and my favorite domain registrar, Hover.com. Ting is Elliot’s way of showing that you can run a wireless access provider, treat your customers superbly, charge very modestly, actively advocate for an open Internet, treat your employees well, and be quite profitable.

Ting charges $6/month per device, and then strictly by use. But Ting charges so little for use that your bill is likely to be way lower per month than what you’d paying any of the majors. E.g., four text msgs will cost you all of a single penny. The three of us in my family on the plan pay Ting about $75/month total, and we don’t stint on our usage. What my parent-in-laws are paying T-Mobile $80/month for Ting will give them for $20-25.

The drawbacks: Because there are no contracts, you’ve got to buy your own phone without a subsidy from Ting. And, Ting uses the Sprint network, which works ok for me, but is not a great network. The competitive feature that I miss the most is T-Mobile’s crazy unlimited data worldwide. Someday!

Now for disclosure: As I mentioned, I’m friends with Elliot. Ting is paying me to blog there. Aside from that, I’m just a happy customer.

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