ENTRIES TAGGED "network neutrality"

Understanding network neutrality

Network neutrality is about treating all kinds of traffic equally — throttling competition equates to extortion.

Gtown_at_Night

I’d like to make a few very brief points about net neutrality. For most readers of Radar, there’s probably nothing new here, but they address confusions that I’ve seen.

  • Network neutrality isn’t about the bandwidth that Internet service providers deliver to your home. ISPs can charge more for more bandwidth, same as always.
  • Nor is network neutrality about the bandwidth that Internet service providers deliver to information providers. Again, ISPs can charge more for more bandwidth, same as always. You’d better believe that Google pays a lot more for Internet service than your local online store.
  • Nor is network neutrality about ISPs dealing with congestion. Network providers have always dealt with congestion — in the worst case, by dropping traffic. Remember the “fast busy” signal on the phone? That’s the network dealing with congestion.
  • Network neutrality is entirely about treating all kinds of traffic equally. Video is the same as voice, the same as Facebook, the same as Amazon. Your ISP cannot penalize video traffic (or some other kind of traffic) because they’d like to get into that business or because they’re already in that business. In other words: when you buy Internet connectivity, you can use it for whatever you want. Your provider can’t tell you what kind of business to be in.

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Does net neutrality really matter?

Competition, access to bandwidth, and other issues muddy the net neutrality waters.

NetNeutralityPetitionSignatures

Screen shot of signatures from a “Common Carrier” petition to the White House.

It was the million comments filed at the FCC that dragged me out of the silence I’ve maintained for several years on the slippery controversy known as “network neutrality.” The issue even came up during President Obama’s address to the recent U.S.-Africa Business forum.

Most people who latch on to the term “network neutrality” (which was never favored by the experts I’ve worked with over the years to promote competitive Internet service) don’t know the history that brought the Internet to its current state. Without this background, proposed policy changes will be ineffective. So, I’ll try to fill in some pieces that help explain the complex cans of worms opened by the idea of network neutrality.
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Court prods FCC in unexpected direction in this week’s Verizon ruling

Network neutrality was on the retreat shortly after the Telecom Act of 1996.

A court ruling this past Tuesday on FCC “network neutrality” regulation closes and opens a few paths in a three-way chess game that has been going on for years between the US District Court of Appeals, the FCC, and the major Internet server providers. (Four-way if you include Congress, and five-way if you include big Internet users such as Google — so, our chess game is coming closer to Chinese Checkers at this point.)

A lot of bloggers, and even news headlines, careened into histrionics (“Net neutrality is dead. Bow to Comcast and Verizon, your overlords“). The Free Press, although oversimplifying the impact, did correctly link the ruling to what they and many other network neutrality supporters consider the original sin of FCC rulings: eviscerating the common carrier regulation of broadband providers.

Even better, many commenters noted the ambiguities and double messages in the ruling. Unlike a famous earlier ruling on Comcast regulation, this week’s court ruling spends a good deal of time affirming the FCC’s right to regulate Internet providers. Notably, pp. 35-36 essentially confirm the value and validity of network neutrality (in the form of promoting innovation at the edges by placing no restraints on transmissions).
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Four short links: 5 April 2013

Four short links: 5 April 2013

Hi-Res Long-Distance, Robot Ants, Data Liberation, and Network Neutrality

  1. Millimetre-Accuracy 3D Imaging From 1km Away (The Register) — With further development, Heriot-Watt University Research Fellow Aongus McCarthy says, the system could end up both portable and with a range of up to 10 Km. See the paper for the full story.
  2. Robot Ants With Pheromones of Light (PLoS Comp Biol) — see also the video. (via IEEE Spectrum’s AI blog)
  3. tabula — open source tool for liberating data tables trapped inside PDF files. (via Source)
  4. There’s No Economic Imperative to Reconsider an Open Internet (SSRN) — The debate on the neutrality of Internet access isn’t new, and if its intensity varies over time, it has for a long while tainted the relationship between Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and Online Service Providers (OSPs). This paper explores the economic relationship between these two types of players, examines in laymen’s terms how the traffic can be routed efficiently and the associated cost of that routing. The paper then assesses various arguments in support of net discrimination to conclude that there is no threat to the internet economy such that reconsidering something as precious as an open internet would be necessary. (via Hamish MacEwan)
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Four short links: 26 December 2012

Four short links: 26 December 2012

Remote-Controlled Arduino, JS Notifications, Device Numbers, and Network Hostility

  1. Arduino IR Remote Control — control your Arduino project via your TV’s remote control. (via Arduino)
  2. holler — WTFPL-licensed Javascript library for real-time in-app notifications via the commandline (uses node). (via Javascript Weekly)
  3. First Tweets — numbers of “first tweet from my new {X}” giving indications of the popularity of each. Not good for Surface, alas.
  4. It’s Clear Verizon is Blocking Google Wallet Anti-Competitively — Verizon blocked Google’s mobile payments app until Verizon’s own was available. One irony of course is that in conjunction with Verizon, Google worked to gut meaningful network neutrality rules that would have prevented this very thing from happening on wireless networks.
Comment: 1

The distinctions and controversies of net neutrality

A new wiki sorts out network neutrality's signal and noise.

"Network Neutrality: Distinctions and Controversies" appears to be the first disciplined attempt to distinguish the various definitions of network neutrality and the practices it is supposed to stop.

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Google Fiber and the FCC National Broadband Plan

Google Fiber and the FCC National Broadband Plan

I’ve puzzled over Google’s Fiber project ever since they announced it. It seemed too big, too hubristic (even for a company that’s already big and has earned the right to hubris) — and also not a business Google would want to be in. But the FCC’s announcement of their plans to widen broadband Internet access in the US puts Google Fiber in a new context. The FCC’s plans are cast in terms of upgrading and expanding the network infrastructure. That’s a familiar debate, and Google is a familiar participant. This is really just an extension of the “network neutrality” debate that has been going on with fits and starts over the past few years.

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Google Enters the Home Broadband Market

Google Enters the Home Broadband Market

So That's What All of Google's Dark Fiber Was For

In a week already full of Google announcements, another bomb was casually dropped today via Google’s blog. The Borg from California announced that it was experimentally entering the Fiber to the Curb (FTTC) market, and that they planned to offer much higher speeds than current offerings (1Gb/sec) and competitive pricing. The announcement also talks about what, when you remove the marketspeak, is a commitment to net neutrality in their service. This, of course, is not surprising, given Google’s strong lobbying for neutrality to the FCC and congress.

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Innovation Battles Investment as FCC Road Show Returns to Cambridge

Opponents can shed their rhetoric and reveal new depths to their thought when you bring them together for rapid-fire exchanges, sometimes with their faces literally inches away from each other. That made it worth my while to truck down to the MIT Media Lab for yesterday’s Workshop on Innovation, Investment and the Open Internet, sponsored by the Federal Communications Commission. The event showed that innovation and investment are not always companions on the Internet. An in-depth look at the current state of the debate over competition and network neutrality.

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Four short links: 12 August 2009 Four short links: 12 August 2009

Four short links: 12 August 2009

Health Data, Python Term Extraction, Network Neutrality, New Database

  1. Improving Health Care — Adam Bosworth’s speech to the Aspen Health Forum. It starts strong and just gets better: There is a lot of talk about improving health care. And there is a lot to improve. Inadequate Evidence: We don’t know enough about what works. We should require sharing of population statistics across practices and hospitals in order to better determine what works for whom. We should reward practices and hospitals that are delivering the best most cost-effective long-term outcomes and penalize those that deliver the worst.
  2. topia.termextract — Python library for term extraction, so you can get a list of the nouns and noun phrases used in a piece of text. (via Simon Willison)
  3. Key to Understanding Network Neutrality — David Pennock neatly identifies the crucial issue, that service quality and price levels be uniformly applied and not arbitrary based on how much the service provider thinks they can gouge from the customer. The key to understanding this debate is recognizing the difference between anonymity and egalitarianism. A mechanism is anonymous if the outcome does not depend on the identity of the players: two players who bid the same are treated equally. It doesn’t matter what their name, age, or wealth is, what company they represent, or how they plan to use the item — all that matters is what they bid. This is a good property for almost any public marketplace that ensures fair treatment, and one worth fighting for on the Internet.
  4. (the item I linked to releases in a week’s time, I will link again when it’s live–sorry for the inconvenience. In the meantime, please enjoy this video of a monkey washing a cat)
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