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Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is the concept that the Internet should be free of controls, no matter how it is accessed. Unfortunately, everyone wants their hand in the cookie jar, which means governments, corporations, businesses, and politicians want in on the action.

Liz Strauss of Successful and Outstanding Bloggers pointed me to The Future Network Will not be Neutral by Lead Step which describes how the future network of the Internet looks now, which is an indicator of the future Internet:

Let me start off with some facts:

British Telecom makes sure that no other VoIP service can work on their network by blocking commonly used ports. Sify India, blocks all RTP packets to make sure that no other VoIP service is used on their network

The US charges developing countries per bandwidth, which is a major deterrent for growing economies to adopt faster connectivity. There are a lot of ISPs in the US, who make sure that Vonage doesnt work on their network.

Etisalat blocks off most sites, and no voice related service, including MSN, Yahoo, or Skype could work on their network.

Liz hosts a Net Neutrality Page with links to more coverage and information on the issue of net neutrality – others controlling what you have access to and how you have access.

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network

Member of the 9Rules Blogging Network


  1. Matthijs
    Posted September 7, 2006 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Maybe I’m missing something in this discussion, but shouldn’t the solution be found on the consumer end? To clarify: I want internet access. I pay for that access. But I also have to pay for how fast a connection I get. Want a faster connection and more bandwidth? Pay more. Want to download those movies? Pay more. Isn’t this the whole point? I’m really confused about the problem. Why should a ISP select what I can do? Which site I can download from and which site not shouldn’t matter for a ISP. All that should matter is that I downloaded 10GB this month and I crossed my limit or not.

    That should be the system. The same as with toll roads. Have a bigger car? You take up more space and damage the road more so you’ll have to pay more. Logical and fair. But once you are on the road, you are free to go were you want.

  2. Posted September 7, 2006 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    It’s more complex that this. It’s not just about paying for a faster car so you can go faster. They want to control things that don’t need controlling. I haven’t found a good analogy to describe this yet. I’m still looking. It’s not just control over access to content like the Chinese do, though that’s part of it. It’s about greed dictating access and control over something they shouldn’t control.

    Let’s look at one example. Right now, if you pick up the telephone, for the most part, you can call anywhere in the world without a lot of hassle. At the end of the month, you get a bill to pay for, right? With Internet, phone calls no longer “cost”, yet phone companies want to make money because you are taking money out of their pocket by using the Internet instead of the telephone. So they have been jumping into the Internet market and are starting to say “Hey, wait a minute. If you call using our MaBell Service on our MaBell Company Internet Access, it’s okay. But if you decide to use FredSmithBell Service to call on our MaBell Company Internet Access line, we’ll stop you.” They want exclusive right control over what you use to use “their” lines, which aren’t their lines, and they are lines you’ve been paying for your whole life. Trust me, they’re paid for. But the companies want more money.

    It isn’t about saying, “Ah, well, if you want to use FredSmith Service, you’ll have to pay more money.” It’s about saying “we won’t let you do anything we don’t want you to do because we said so and we’re big and we’ve spent 100 years convincing you that we are MaBell and we rule your world.” A bunch of BS.

    There are more layers to this, but it boils down to a bunch of corporations whose business is threatened by the Internet and Internet technology, wanting to stay in business so they want control and monopoly. Not much different than Microsoft not so much saying but implying that there is only one Internet browser in the world, IE, to use and that’s the only one you should ever use. It’s amazing how terrified people get when I tell them that IE isn’t the only browser and that there are better browsers out there. Changing scares them.

    Net neutrality says “I can use anything I want to connect to the web, work on the web, and view and participate on the web. And dont’ tell me otherwise.”

    Does that help you understand the issue just a little more?

  3. Matthijs
    Posted September 7, 2006 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle, thanks for your response. I did understand the problem (although you clarified it even more, thanks for that), I was just thinking out loud. I’m just as angry as you and others about this. I’m also questioning the people in power (us congressmen) who don’t understand the importance of a free internet (in the sense of net neutrality). But anyone who has seen the internets tubes video will know that those in power have absolutely no clue what’s happening behind that blue “e” on their pc. They are just lobbied to death by well-paid representatives of the big companies.

    Luckily were I live we have like 20, 30 providers (don’t know exactly) so the chances of one big company having a monopoly and selling out are smaller. As you point out we all know were that can lead to (as seen with Microsoft).

    We should fight back. Blog about this, give it as much attention as possible.

  4. Posted September 7, 2006 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely agree with Lorelle, the governments and big corporations try to control Internet and it should be control free. For example Google makes its own rules, like they own the Internet, and they don’t ask anybody’s opinion. We should fight back.

  5. Posted September 8, 2006 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I would take issue with a few of your assumptions.

    For instance, that the telecom industry wants to take “control” of content, or discriminate against some content or servers. Full disclosure, I work with the Hands Off group, and as we said in a newspaper ad last month, we endorse the four principles of net neutrality — and yes, this means you can hook up any legitimate device to the Internet.

    What it boils down to, as I see it, is a dispute between the broadband providers (my side) and the Internet companies (Google, etc) about how to pay for investment in upgraded fiber networks and the like. Unfortunately, Google and some activist groups have turned this into a full-scale moral panic, and what they’re calling for would ultimately restrict consumer choices.

  6. Posted September 8, 2006 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    My example was lame, a struggle to explain a fairly complex issue, even more confusing as I’ve heard rumors that governments are starting to throw their weight into the ring, too. When Arthur C. Clarke predicted telephone communications would be free by the turn of the century, he forgot how greedy humans are.

    Thanks for helping to explain this better than I.

  7. Posted September 20, 2006 at 2:17 am | Permalink


    There is a bit more to it. See, if everything and all the content that was being accessed, was in the same network, nobody really cares. If you want to make calls using skype from one user to another, nobody is going to come after you. The issue comes when you are jumping between different networks- like the internet to the PSTN world and so on. As you mentioned, nobody cares if you pick up the landline phone at home, and start calling, cause the whole network is owned by one person. The person who laid that infrastructure is also the one reaping the revenue out of it.

    We are talking about a world, that in another few years is going to look very very complicated and simple at the sametime. I could switch between my television and “mobile communication device” in ease. I can flip my video conferencing session from my mobile phone, to the big screen television to get a better view and perspective if I wanted to… all this means, I’ll have to hop between networks, and the amount of effort, energy and money that needs to go into making sure that interoperability is achieved, is enormous – not to mention the billions of dollars that are invested towards that infrastructure.

    Simply put, nobody is going to make that investment, unless operators can be sure that out of all these services, they can get some money. (We all know and heard of the billions of dollars that went into the investments in 3G networks and nobody has seen the returns yet). Since all the devices will be on IP – from your mobile device to your television to most of the sensory equipments, it will be very much like accessing the internet, and there cant be a way to differentiate what these services are. That’s basically the reason why these “walled gardens” are being raised – just to make sure that there is some basis for charging your usage, in a fair manner.

    Eventually, when the technology matures, and the cost goes down, and the fad of all the startup companies that want to make millions by building one component out of the whole system goes away, like everything else, things will become a commodity and the grip that operators have on this network will loosen. If it doesnt, the entry barrier will be quite low for companies like google to enter into this space and challenge the incumbents. The result will be that, We will truly have an amazing and rugged infrastructure, to do far more than anything we have dreamt of, at that point. It really will be the beginning of a digital lifestyle.

    The catch: we will have to pay a premium price in the meantime. Question is, is it worth it?

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