Do you want Net Neutrality for Corporations or Real Internet Equality?

I don't understand why many progressives (and even radicals who should know better) are so focused on net neutrality and are doing so while ignoring or downplaying the major causes of Internet inequality.

In practice, a non-neutral net means that providing video content will be more expensive and all other forms of content will become cheaper. I know that my websites provide very little video content and would benefit from Comcast putting a cap on Netflix's bandwidth. People would be able to load my websites faster in peak usage hours (like on 7-11 pm during weekdays when our residential Comcast internet will often slow down). I suspect that progressive and radical websites in general would similarly benefit. Youtube and Netflix will hurt the most, or they will pay for the bandwidth that they use making it cheaper for other net users.

Video uses far more bandwidth than other types of content on the Internet. Streaming Netflix can take 1 GB per hour, or 3 GB per hour in high definition. When 4K HD video is implemented, it will use even more. By contrast, an email might only be 10-100 kb. So you can fit 30,000 to 300,000 emails in the bandwidth that it takes to stream 1 hour of HD video. Images take up more space, but most won't take up more than 1 mb (and small images will be 10-100 kb) - so you can view 3000 high resolution images for the same bandwidth as an hour of HD video.

An unequal net will especially benefit mobile internet users as there is a limit to how much radio bandwidth we have. You could use this radio bandwidth for the public good by allowing community groups to start FM and AM radio stations, and TV stations. With technological advances in electronics, the cost of setting up a low or medium power FM station is not that large - but almost every major US city has run out of open channels.

The largest source of internet inequality is that the content providers are dominated by large corporations. Similar to the problems of "free speech" anyone can have a website (or print a flyer), but some people get millions of views whereas others get hundreds.

The second largest source of inequality is that web content is delivered at unequal speeds due to the difference in the number, quality, and location of the servers. I used to host my websites on a shared hosting plan that cost $8/month. However, that server was overloaded with hundreds of websites - so I paid $30/month to switch to a shared server with fewer websites on it. If I wanted a dedicated server, I would have to pay $100/month or more if I wanted dedicated support. Currently when I file a support ticket it can take up to 24 hours to get the most basic (and often wrong) response from my web hosting company. Major corporations (and wealthier non-profits) have fast dedicated servers with good support. Not only that, but they have servers in multiple locations so they can provide you content from a local source to reduce the ping time and increase the bandwidth. Corporations can also afford to hire multiple web developers who are dedicated to making their website load faster.

The third largest source of inequality is that access is unequal across race, income, and for rural users. For instance, Comcast has a low-income internet service ($10/month) that up until recently was providing only 1.5 mb of bandwidth versus the 6-10 mbps that its regular service provided. Several months ago they increased the bandwidth from 1.5 to 5 mbps, but that is still less than regular users get (10-20 mbps or much more if you have FIOS). Internet access (both the subscription to the service and the devices that run it) is often a luxury that it is hard for poor people to afford. Poor people are also least likely to have their story "go viral" (unless it is an absurd story that can be exploited by corporations for online ad revenues).

Another and more minor source of inequality is that the expression of some views on the Internet is illegal and you can be charged with terrorism for even linking to them. For instance, if I were to have a link to a Hezbollah website - I might get charged with terrorism. Hezbollah is a very popular massive movement / political party in Lebanon and is not viewed as a terrorist organization by many European countries, however (like Reagan's opinion of the ANC during the 1980's) it is seen the by the US government as a terrorist organization. In the US, activists have been jailed for running at least two websites that I know of: Monkey Fist and the Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty website.

From an environmental perspective, unlimited internet bandwidth comes at the cost of building massive internet pipelines (fiber optics and cable) using fossil fuels and powering more server capacity that you need - again using fossil fuels.

Corporate net neutrality is like corporate free speech. It's great for some corporations who would otherwise be "oppressed" by other corporations and there might be the occasional tidbit that benefits regular people. But for the rest of us, what matters is Internet equality and that will only come from economic equality and ending capitalism.