n the ongoing discussion about net neutrality, there’s been quite a bit of confusion about so-called fast lanes on the Internet. I’d like to spend a few moments clarifying what these fast lanes are and why they are not a good thing. While some media reports have suggested otherwise, Netflix and other Internet content providers are not using fast lanes to deliver their content to consumers.
First, what’s a fast lane on the Internet? Simply put, a fast lane is where one person’s data travelling on an Internet Service Providers (ISPs) last-mile network gets priority delivery over another’s. A helpful way to think about fast lanes is by visualizing cars on a multi-lane highway where one of the lanes can only be used if you pay a toll. The toll lane only becomes attractive because the other lanes are too slow. Only the person controlling the network -- the ISP -- can slow down traffic to make someone else’s go faster.