This week, the FCC repealed its Net Neutrality regulations. Depending on whom you talk to -- and, oddly enough, depending often on their bluish or reddish tinge -- this was either a terrible or great thing for technology and the nation as a whole.
In the response to the move, there are some pondering implications for the Internet of Things. Essentially, those that believe this move to be terrible hold that internet providers (such as AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast) may use their pricing power and their ability to slow data flows from IoT devices. Consequently, the people, including insurance policyholders, and organizations, like insurance companies, that want to create insights and actions from that data will be put at a disadvantage. Images are conjured of networked smoke sensors failing to provide timely notice of fires, or connected heart sensors delaying information on atrial fibrillation.
Here is what I think. Let’s divide IoT devices (and the organizations that create insights from the IoT data) into two groups:
· The first group consists of devices designed to guard the safety and well-being of people and property
· The second group has all other devices.
Internet providers are not so stupid (or so nonchalant about lawsuits and really bad publicity) that they would actually slow track data from the first group. Internet providers may well price discriminate against some or many of the IoT devices in the second group, because, well, they can. The value of HVAC data to a building owner or its insurer, for example, may or may not be sufficient to pay for fast-tracking that data -- but it's not life-or-death. As a guy who thinks most market-based solutions are better than most non-market-based solutions, that’s OK with me -- not only for technology and society, but for insurers as well. Carriers will not have to slow their innovative spirit, because the value will show through.
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