On Thursday the Federal Communications Commission voted to discontinue Obama era net neutrality regulation. Broadband providers are no longer prohibited from attaching additional fees to accessing key content or blocking sites altogether. Consumers may see changes coming in a matter of weeks as the industry undergoes an adjustment period.
As expected, this highly contentious action was met with a violent backlash from net neutrality proponents, as they see it as a direct attack on internet freedom. While it does have that appearance, there is a more appropriate angle from which to approach the topic. Instead of asking, “Is net neutrality in the best interest of consumers?” (of course it is!), instead ask yourself if you want the government dominating the issue. Is there a better alternative? Realistically, this ruling merely reflects the Trump administration’s active efforts to reduce the government’s oppressive presence in…everything. It could be a small step in the right direction if the desired impacts are achieved. But if the FCC is not fighting for net neutrality on our behalf, who is?
The free market.
Capitalism: A Truly Free Market
Government intervention will never solve this sort of issue as thoroughly as the free market. While the government can force compliance, it always introduces second and third order consequences in the process that are equally problematic. It solves one problem by introducing three more. The free market has a distinct advantage. It naturally finds a solution that benefits providers and consumers mutually by offering the former a profit and the latter the best product possible. The process works like this:
- Business A introduces new product and charges any reasonable price it sees fit because it is first to market.
- Consumers happily pay this price.
- Business B finds a way to offer the same, similar, or better product at a better price by improving its processes or accepting a smaller margin.
- Value-seeking consumers gravitate to the new business.
- Business A is forced to adapt to compete. It either realizes its initial price was extravagant and reduces the price, or improves its processes as well.
- The process continues for multiple businesses, generating multiple variations of the same item and healthy competition.
- Consumers now have multiple options to explore and continually cast votes on the business that brings the most value to market with each dollar spent.
As you can see, the second and third order effects in this pattern all benefit the consumer! Only one thing is capable of ruining this process. Can you guess what it is?
If you guessed ‘government intervention,’ not only are you correct, but you also deserve a medal for having the thought synthesis to identify the very problem that is mutilating the world economy. The moment politics become intertwined with business, the fair, free environment is destroyed. From this, a new system is birthed: crony capitalism.
Capitalism (Free Market) vs Crony Capitalism (Oppression)
Crony capitalism occurs when one business receives subsidies from the government, giving it a dangerously unfair market advantage. Subsidies are often awarded as a result of lobbying or exchanged for legislative support. The result is always the same: good people pay the price. To explain this concept more clearly, let’s contrast the crony capitalist process with the free market process above.
- Business A introduces new product and charges $100. This price includes a built in profit margin of 10%.
- Consumers happily pay this price.
- Businesses B, C, and D begin introducing competing products and consumers may seek value as they see fit. All companies are forced to offer the absolute best prices and products to earn their portioned market share.
- Business E enters the same market with a similar product attempting to gain market share.
- Business E does not improve its processes or its product. In fact, its product is actually inferior. Instead, its CFO meets with powerful heads of state and secures tax subsidies and product subsidies.
- Now Business E is able to offer a similar product for $45. The government covers $50 worth of the product cost with taxpayer money, and the tax subsidy offsets the rest.
- Business E is able to achieve the same 10% profit margin while offering the product 55% cheaper.
- Businesses A, B, C, and D quickly go out of business. They are unable to compete with the Business E behemoth. Business E buys up the other businesses for pennies on the dollar and absorbs nearly 100% market share.
- Consumes are left with an inferior product and no other options.
Which category encompasses net neutrality?
Bringing net neutrality back into focus, by abolishing the legislation, the FCC is allowing the free market to run its course. Many fear that broadband providers will begin to throttle services, censor viewership as it suits them, and charge exorbitant rates for premium content as a result, and guess what. They are probably right. But that isn’t the end of this story!
If you think for a moment that the best and brightest minds are not already working towards a free market solution, you are gravely mistaken! Even before net neutrality was again headline news, a team of entrepreneurs was tackling this issue head on and developing the best possible solution using the best technology available. It’s time to meet the hero of this story. His name is Justin Tab, and Substratum is his solution.
Substratum was founded in February 2017 by partners Justin Tabb and Abram Cookson. Their vision is to deliver a fully decentralized web (web 3.0) to the world deployed via blockchain. This will involve building a network of nodes from which individuals around the world can host websites and even video services, effectively circumventing the hegemony of central providers. Essentially what this means is that Substratum will deliver net neutrality once and for all. It will not be left to the whims of regulation. You will have full, unfiltered access to the internet without the need for TOR networks or VPNs (Virtual Private Networks). A new era of browsing is here.
Justin Tabb is the lead solutions architect for the project, and he brings an impressive resume to the table. He has over 13 years of coding and development experience, and has shown what he is capable of through the success of his firm, Override Pro. This success has garnered the attention of behemoths Apple, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Disney, and others, so he also brings those connections with him. Check out the rest of the team here.
How It Works
SubstratumHost is the network component that will revolutionize web hosting as we know it. Instead of paying central authorities to host website material, site managers can pay individuals directly to host it using Substratum digital currency. In this respect, Substrate is both the fuel that runs the system as well as an exchangeable token. Here’s how it works.In other words, CryptoPay is a payment system within the Substratum ecosystem that allows users to participate without having to divest from their favorite currency. If hosts would rather be paid in Litecoin, they are able to set that preference, and Substrate will make the magic happen. Likewise, site managers may pay hosts in any currency they prefer through this mechanism. This system will be going live 1Q 2018 the the program live launch.
One of Tabb’s main goals in this project is to deliver the most seamless user experience possible. He believes that people should be able to browse the decentralized web with no special software required. This sets Substratum apart from any other project out there, even Mysterium, which is attempting to market a decentralized virtual private network. Substratum takes it a step further by making the decentralized web available through standard browsers like Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and (garbage) Internet Explorer without a VPN. It will all be made possible through SubstratumDNS, the system bridge that makes it possible on Windows, mac, and Linux as well.
While Tabb and his team have successfully generated proof of concept, the project is not yet live. It is planned to launch in January, at which point we will be able to take part in the revolution. The January version will not be the final version, however, and the team has identified three areas that need to be perfected before the product can be taken mainstream: DNS scalability, encryption, and compression.
As with any other blockchain/crypto project, scalability is the #1 issue. While the project is genius and functional, in order for it to handle the traffic that the worldwide web handles currently, it still needs to be perfected. The team has already created a proprietary method of doing this called Substratum DNS, but it is still underway.
Encryption is key in maintaining network security, project longevity, and the privacy of all involved. It will guarantee that nodes can safely host any material without introducing themselves to attacks and clients can pay for hosting without compromising the integrity of its systems.
Delivering content through the internet has its bandwidth limitations. Compression will enable nodes to host more material using less bandwidth, and will ultimately help improve the scalability aspect as well. This becomes even more crucial as we discuss hosting video content like what YouTube showcases. Substratum has mentioned that it is developing a video component to supplement its version 1 release, so expect to see this in focus mid-late 2018.
Until then, Substratum tokens may be acquired through the following exchanges (arranged by volume, highest to lowest):
- Ether Delta
Substratum is planned to launch on Bittrex soon. The ICO launched successfully in August/September, raising $13.8 million during that window. 100% of the funds will be invested directly into the project. Here is the breakdown.
- Product Awareness – 30% of budget
- Product Development – 60% of budget
- Network Infrastructure – 10% of budget
Note that Tabb and the development team have not set any portion of the ICO funds aside for themselves. This will ensure that every penny raised goes towards bringing the project to market and realizing the dream as soon as possible. Instead, a small portion of each transaction will be reserved for Substratum once it is live and functional, so that is their motivation moving forward.
While the internet service provider industry itself will be investigating its own net neutrality fixes, I believe they will struggle to deliver in the end. The larger ISPs have a reputation of snuffing out or buying out the competition, so Substratum will have a distinct advantage on that front. Not only does it harness a technological advantage through blockchain, but it also benefits by operating outside the restraints placed on bigger parties. While the corporations fight each other and alienate their users, Substratum can quietly change the fabric of the internet as we know it and forever transform our browsing experience. The repeal of net neutrality laws is not a curse, but an opportunity. To sum this up perfectly, I’ll give Ayn Rand the floor.
“There is only one power that determines the course of history, just as it determines the course of every individual life: the power of man’s rational faculty — the power of ideas.”
As a bonus, if you plan on investing in Substratum, you’ll notice that it has seen healthy growth since it landed on exchanges late September.It has yet to ‘blow up’ like many of the altcoins in recent weeks, so we may well be witnessing the beginning near term. At any rate, it is a promising project and a solid long term play.
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