THE MYTH OF THE FREE RIDE. Via Tom Lee I see that in the course of editorializing against network neutrality, The Washington Post's editorial writers have decided that big Internet firms "want their services delivered fast but don't want the pipe owners to extract fees from them." This is misinformation pure and simple. As Tom writes, "Content providers pay for their bandwidth." Here's a quick-and-dirty experiment that can prove the point to readers. Try to start a website. Go do it now.

Give it a shot, and you'll see soon enough that to start a website you need to pay someone to host it and for the bandwidth it uses. Right now, my website is a TypePad site. To start one, you need to pay Six Apart a monthly fee. As you'll see here, for $4.95 a month you get two gigabytes per month of bandwidth, whereas $8.95 a month will get you (among other things) five gigabytes per months of bandwidth. It costs money. As it should. Bandwidth is a valuable commodity, so if you want it -- either from a user end or from the content provider end -- you're obviously going to need to pay for it. Which you do. This is a total red herring as far as the neutrality issue is concerned.

What's especially odd about this is that, obviously, The Washington Post has a website. Did Fred Hiatt think the site had no costs? Was the bandwidth it uses free? They could have cleared this up by asking someone around the office, but instead they seem to have just decided to reprint some telecom industry talking points wholesale.

--Matthew Yglesias

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