Internet Network Neutrality – You Should Know the Basics, FCC Chairman To Smack Down ISPs That Throttle Data


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Network

Neutrality,

what does this mean?  Pictured is FCC Chairman Julias Genachowski. 

From Wikipedia:  Wikipedia ReferenceNetwork Neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for residential broadband networks and potentially for all networks. A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.”

Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the companies that provide EVERYONE with ACCESS to the internet, are accused of making internet routing and performance decisions based upon the Content that is being transmitted.  Examples of ISPs are Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, Cablevision, COX, etc. 

Data CenterConsider for a moment that ACCESS to the internet is not just a consumer’s link to the network, but companies that host internet destinations and applications must buy ACCESS.   Internet destinations such as Google, Yahoo, Vonage, Microsoft must also buy ACCESS just like consumers (albeit in much greater bandwidth chunks) in order for you to reach their sites or use their applications, like Internet Voice, P2P File Sharing, Messaging, Video, Blogs, etc.

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The FCC is concerned (and so should you) that ISPs “may” be making decisions about content (Neutrality) for the wrong reasons.  It is certainly understandable if the content in question is clearly illegal such as sharing copyrighted materials or pornography.  What question still remains here, are the ISPs the right folks to make those decisions? 

Also involved in this issue of Network Neutrality is the accusation that the ISPs make decisions about content that might affect their own internal network performance (too much traffic).  Keep in mind that the internet is made up of many moving parts.  The two key parts in this issue are Internet ACCESS and the Internet Backbone.  Every customer pays for one end of ACCESS such as your home cable modem which you pay for, or Google that pays for High Speed ACCESS to their Data Centers.  The Backbone, or moving parts in between all the ACCESS points, are the responsibility of the ISPs to manage (cost of doing business).

Worse yet is the accusation that “some ISPs” might make routing and performance decisions based on content that COMPETE with their own service offerings such as Cable Company-provided Internet Phone services, for example.  It may be tempting by ISPs to tip the scale if future revenues are at stake for ISP provided products.  Thus has spawned the debate and concern over what has been proposed as Network Neutrality.

The FCC’s involvement, while late in the game, is welcomed to bring some order, fairness and governance to the dialog.

Melius tarde, quam nunquam

(Better late than never)

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Filed under Internet, ISP, Network Neutrality

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