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Net Neuterality

September 21, 2010 2 comments

This was written for a class presentation which I decided to bin at the last minute. Regardless, here it is for posterity. And mockery. Mostly mockery.

The first time that I heard about net neutrality was a few years ago. There was an article circulating the nets about how ISPs would change the model of internet service in 2012. They would do this by selling people website packages. This is similar to the channel packages that you buy from cable companies. Instead of all sites being available, you would only be able to visit the sites that you had paid to access.

Luckily, this all turned out to be a hoax, but it did make me aware of the Net neutrality issue.

In simplest terms, Net Neutrality is the idea that ISPs should not be allowed to slow down or stop traffic based on its content. A bit is a bit. It doesn’t matter if you’re downloading an illegal torrent or on cnn.com. Unfortunately right now it’s only an idea and not a law or regulation, though there have been attempts made.

Recently there was a proposal put forth by Verizon and Google, which asked for provisions that ISPs could charge extra for certain applications and that broadband devices be excluded by the net neutrality debate. Obviously this created a bit of hubbub since Google is the largest content provider and Verizon is the largest broadband provider. You might say that there’s a conflict of interest there. None of them can really make an unbiased stance.

Now here’s why you should care. Without net neutrality regulations in place, ISPs could start majorly screwing with customers. They could charge people for using VOIP services, because they also provide phone service and don’t like the idea of people getting phone service over their internet connection. They could also start hosting their own content, or make partnerships with other content hosts. If you want to watch the newest viral video you had better do it at charter.com because they are throttling the connection to youtube.

This all may reek of paranoia, but the trend of tv and the internet becoming merged is the starting of a death knell for cable companies. Charter’s on demand service is laughable compared to the amount of content you can get from a site like hulu. Why pay for a service that’s inferior to one you can get for free? The ISPs are either going to have to change their business model to keep up with this new technology that’s coming up, or they’ll have to start bending rules to swing the advantage back their way. You can just take a look at the music industry and the RIAA to see how slowly and horribly these old standards respond to change.

Categories: Tech