I love the "Net Neutrality" debate. Both sides define the term
differently and then talk past each other. Congress has no clue.
Senator Stevens' famous speech against "Net Neutrality" actually made
a good case for it, as the proponents of NN define it.
As the NN proponents define it, I favor it. Of course I don't want
Verizon or SBC throttling Google or Amazon traffic in favor of their
own competing services. But that's not what the NN opponents are
supposedly seeking -- and frankly they'd be slitting their own throats
if they tried it. They want the ability to offer new services that
require better, more reliable, less latent connections than the
standard Internet can offer, citing telemedicine and various emergency
services. More likely IPTV and IPTelephony, in my view. For example,
if you have a fiber to your home and pay for some ungodly amount of
bandwidth, 7, 10, or even 30 Gbps, there is still lots of unused
capacity on that fiber. It stands to reason that the fiber owner
should be able to take advantage of that extra capacity (beyond what
is needed for standard Internet connectivity) to offer access to
telephony, HDTV, and gaming services (as well as the telemedicine and
emergency services) at higher quality levels than if they had to
contend for bandwidth with random Internet downloads, etc. If NN
threatens that, as the NN opponents claim, I hate it. And some of the
legislation regarding NN goes well beyond Internet access, potentially
covering all sorts of broadband services.
This exchange illustrates the point, to some degree:
On 8/17/2006 8:35 AM, Scott Dorsey wrote:
> Larry Dignan wrote:
>> 3. All traffic isn't created equal. An e-mail doesn't have the same
>> service requirements as a VOIP call. An X-ray of a heart patient
>> should have priority over a Britney Spears video. Corporate networks
>> manage traffic that way, and at some point there has to be some
>> intelligence added to public Internet infrastructure between the end
>> points. Net neutrality requirements mean all traffic is created
>> equal. You can debate over who makes the call over what traffic gets
>> priority, but to pretend all traffic is equal doesn't hold up.
> When you do this, what you have isn't the internet any more.
And why should all traffic be the Internet? Isn't there a legitimate
role for broadband service that isn't Internet access?
> The beauty and the failing of the net is that everyone is equal and every
> device is treated like every other device. Unfortunately this is not a good
> thing to carry realtime data.
> There have been attempts to do what you describe with QoS management,
> where some kinds of traffic gets treated differently than other kinds
> of traffic. In general, these things don't work very well, because
> the underlying protocol isn't designed for it.
If the IP protocol isn't good for some particular service, why should we
have to force the provider to use it because everyone on the Internet does?
> If you want a largescale nationwide network to handle realtime data
> like VOIP, video traffic, and high resolution X-rays at the same time,
> it ought to be built very differently than the Internet. Because the
> Internet just isn't built for that. Sorry.
But the NN bills could very well foreclose building a network "very
differently from the Internet." NN would bar, say, SBC from offering
instant, no-latency access to video, telephony, and (of course) HD
X-rays over the same fiber that offfers Internet access to Google and
Amazon without the no-latency frills.
Michael D. Sullivan
Bethesda, MD (USA)
(To reply, change example.invalid to com in the address.)