Broadband, Net Neutrality and airplane boarding: industries' love affair with stupid

As you probably know, we board airplanes in just about the worst, most inefficient way possible (this is the best way). The airlines know this, but stupid boarding remains the order of the day. That's because stupid boarding involves charging rich people more to skip the stupid, and participate in the slightly-less-stupid of eating warm nuts while you hang around waiting for everyone else to endure the maximally stupid.

The thing is, this isn't just stupid, it actually costs the airlines a ton of money -- in aviation, time is money, and stupid wastes a lot of time. Much more than they make from charging special skip-the-stupid/eat-warm-nuts fees. But there you have it. They're addicted to stupid, because stupid makes money, while smart merely saves (even more) money.

As Mike Masnick points out, this kind of stupid is a perfect microcosm of the terrible behavior we're likely to see as a result of the US FCC abolishing Net Neutrality and allowing Net Discrimination:

Broadband providers insist they need to do things like prioritize some traffic in order to deal with network congestion, but that's bogus. It's only the non-technical management who makes those claims. Ask the technology guys, and they will quickly say that basic upgrades can easily accommodate all traffic. But the broadband providers are now like the airlines. They could very easily offer a better overall service, but they're quickly recognizing that by offering a crappy service, they can charge more to get a select few to pay up for a "fast lane" approach. So the incentives are totally screwed up. There's little incentive for airlines to improve the boarding process, so long as having such a crappy process leads people to pay extra fees to avoid the crappy process.

In the broadband space, it's even worse, because there's even less competition, so there are even fewer incentives for the broadband providers to actually do the necessary upgrades. Instead, they have all the incentive in the world to make their broadband connections purposely inefficient, to pressure people into paying more. Is it really any wonder that Netflix streaming quality was so terrible until Netflix suddenly agreed to start paying up.

Just like the airlines, broadband providers have little incentive to actually build what's best, and plenty of incentive to degrade the general experience.

What Inefficient Airline Boarding Procedures Have To Do With Net Neutrality

(Image: Diet coke and warm nuts. , LWYang, CC-BY)