Sunday, April 19, 2009

what is Net Neutrality anyway?

Net Neutrality is really a misnomer; it’s not just about neutrality. Calling Common Carrier requirements for Internet providers “Net Neutrality” is like calling your car gasoline neutral. If Ford or General Motors made an exclusive deal with Exxon-Mobile so that their vehicles only got the rated gas mileage using that brand of gasoline, and all others would produce sub-par results, there would be no question about legislating against that.

So why then are the carriers allowed to try to hold content providers hostage over bandwidth and performance?

When I purchase Internet access through my ISP, I am buying bandwidth to the net at large, not to the companies that have cooperative agreements with my provider. I expect that the content provider may throttle requests and responses to mitigate issues such as being slashdoted and having unusually large amounts of traffic at an unpredictable moment, but that is in their business model not in the business of the Internet Provider who has sold me bandwidth.

The Internet has become a utility just like electricity, telephone, cellular phone, cable, water, gas, etc. and must be regulated with the same methods. Common Carrier law for phone companies must extend to the Internet providers both local and backbone. These rules are needed so that companies cannot be forced to pay what amounts to protection money to keep their bandwidth and their customers happy.