The First and Last Mile, and Net Neutrality

The hardest part about installing public transportation in a city not built for it is the first and last mile. That’s the mile one has to go to reach the nearest stop, and the mile they have go on the other end to reach their destination. People just plain won’t walk a mile anymore. Older, denser cities don’t have this problem; there is a tram stop nearby no matter where you live.

If Net Neutrality is torpedoed, we will have a new last mile problem. At least in urban areas, near where you live is The Backbone — the actual internet, the information superhighway. Your ISP is an on-ramp, but they’re about to be given the right to control your access to the highway. If you live in a rural area, the last mile might be more than a mile but the concept is the same.

The ISPs are just an on-ramp, but because they control the last mile (they have wires connected to your house), they control your access. That’s why there are currently laws to prevent them from abusing that power. If net neutrality goes away, we’ll have a new first-mile problem. So much information, so close, but held hostage by the wire-owners. That first step.

Some will pay the ISP’s extortionate fees. Some will be cut off from one of the key assets that decides who gets ahead these days. The rich will get richer. To be more specific, the rich people who floated this whole idea will get richer, and they don’t give a crap about anyone else. It’s not that they want the poor to remain poor, that would be evil. They simply don’t care what happens to those people.

Already here in Silicon Valley there is a company promising to be a neutral ISP, no matter what the law says. They solve the last mile with a radio dish pointed at a tower (if I’m reading their propaganda correctly), but at the moment cost/performance is not close to the guys with wires connected to my house. Even so, if the guys with wires make the slightest move toward controlling my access, They should know now that I will not remain their customer for long.


1 thought on “The First and Last Mile, and Net Neutrality

  1. I’m on fixed wireless here in the woods, and it’s totally acceptable, even for a work-from-home type. During some peak hours it appears over-subscribed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s actually a backbone problem in these parts. I am less than a mile from Internet II (the academia + some business closed loop, with insane speeds), and while I can’t tap into it from my house, I can drive to the community college and get bandwidth that probably exceeds your big city bandwidth. That’s another option … get tolerable, open internet at home, and “go” elsewhere (even if “going” means “install a Pringles repeater and sit at home”) when you need a big pipe.

    An “info wants to be free” solution is to simply share paid-access accounts to packets that would be throttled. While any ISP worth its salt would obviously throttle by IP, I bet you most of them just dial it in, so to speak, and cookie-authenticate paid traffic. I’m willing to start a pool of accounts for that, damn the DMCA.

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