Thursday, January 8, 2009

Net Neutrality

I am a huge supporter of Net Neutrality for a variety of reasons but first for those of you who aren't sure what net neutrality is and how it affects you and your life here is a brief overview.

What is Net Neutrality?

Net Neutrality means no discrimination.

Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

Now your probably thinking, why would my ISP block, speed up or slow web content?

According to PC World Magazine,

"A distributor of online video content has filed a complaint with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, asking the agency to stop broadband providers from blocking or slowing P-to-P traffic.

The petition filed by Vuze, which uses the BitTorrent P-to-P (peer-to-peer) protocol to distribute Web content, asks the FCC to set rules for network management by ISPs (Internet service providers). Vuze's filing late Wednesday follows reports last month that cable broadband provider Comcast slows some P-to-P traffic, including BitTorrent."

By blocking or slowing video from Vuze, ISP's were effectively running the company into the ground as a video site rely's on fast speeds to customers. ISPs are futilely fighting customer demand for multimedia services but the broader implications are far more serious.

If ISP's can get away with slowing traffic to sites they dislike, whether it's because the sites utilize a lot of bandwidth for video or file sharing, then the ISP can effectively shut the business down simply by slowing traffic to the point of making the site unusable.

Like the early days of newspapers and radio the internet is a veritable cornucopia of innovation, growth and private individual created content. Anyone can become a video podcaster and start his or her own video show or internet radio program.This is in contrast to newspapers and tv which are now over 90% corporate created content.

If the internet becomes a regulated corporate body then all the freedom and innovation goes the way of the ancient radio talk show.

Comcast, a major cable company recently was busted by the FCC for seacretly blocking internet access to some of it's customers.

"A sharply divided Federal Communications Commission this morning slammed Comcast for blocking Internet access to some customers. It accused the cable company of failing to tell its subscribers about the practice, lying when confronted by regulators and trying to cripple online video sites that compete with its on-demand service."

Blogger, John C Dvorak wrote at on Feb 27 2008

"Comcast has acknowledged hiring people to fill seats before the start of a contentious federal hearing on how the company manages its broadband network, allowing its employees to take those seats when the filled-to-capacity hearing started…

“First, Comcast was caught blocking the Internet. Now it has been caught blocking the public from the debate,” said Timothy Karr, director of an advocacy campaign…

“The only people cheering Comcast are those paid to do so.”

This is an important subject and I hope that freedom prevails.