Lessig on Net Neutrality

Real Lawyers have blogs points to a post by Lawrence Lessig that sums up the net neutrality debate nicely by pointing out that: One clue to this Net Neutrality debate is to watch what kind of souls are on each side of the debate. The pro-NN contingent is filled with the people who actually built the Net — from Vint Cerf to Google to eBay — and those who profit from the competition enabled by the Net — e.g., Microsoft. The anti-NN contingent is filled with the entities that either never got the Net, or fought like hell to control it — telecom, and cable companies.

Both site refer to a Tim Berners-Lee (credited as the inventor of the Internet) post advocating net neutrality

As I have said before, I believe that net neutrality is crucial.

Read the Lessig post

Read the Real Lawyers post

Read the Tim Berners-Lee post

Sir Tim Berners-Lee wants Network Neutrality

Tim Berners-Lee, often called the inventor of the Internet, expressed his support for net neutrality at a conference. In essense, net neutrality means that the owner of the pipe should not discrimiante against those who use the pipe for either sending or receiving.

As I have said before, network neutrality is crucial. Given recent indications from pipe providers (ie telcos), I belive governments need to make this clear.

Read a CNet article

Read a ZDNet article via Digg

Network Neutrality explained

I keep harping on how important Net Neutrality is. I’m not one that suggests “there should be a law about that” very often (as odd as that may seem coming from a lawyer), but I believe this concept is fundamental to the future of the Internet.

Take a look at the YouTube video on the Public Knowledge site (via Digg) that explains what the concept is about. Its worth spending the 3 minutes.

Look at the Public Knowledge video

See the Digg post

Save the Internet!!

Thats the title of a site by a coalition of dozens of groups that have banded together to promote Network Neutrality. The list of supporters is impressive.

It is aimed primarily at influencing US legislation.

It is relevant to Canadians though for several reasons. The issue affects our Internet use as well. Our own government should get the same message. And of course, given the international, borderless nature of the Internet, net neutrality is not just a one country issue.

It is noteworthy that the home page of the site gives 2 examples of problems that arise where net neutrality is not observed – both of them Canadian. Telus for blocking a Web site by employees (and if I recall correctly, others as unintended collateral damage), and Shaw cable for charging an extra $10 per month to give better service to those who use independent VoIP providers, and not Shaw’s own service.

The site is a good read for anyone that wants to better understand the issues.

Go to the Save the Internet site

Read a CNet article

Read an article I wrote on the topic

Net Neutrality legislation gets a boost

New telecom legislation is being considered in the US. It recently did not deal with the need for network neutrality.

Apparently there has been a change of heart, as there has been a promise that netwrok neutrality provisions will indeed be included. More info is in the linked articles.

Lets hope those provisions are effective, and that the Canadian government embraces the network neutrality concept as well.

Read a Techdirt post

Read a CNet article

Read other posts of mine on the topic

Telcos should pay Google

Techdirt has a post with a different spin on the Network Neutrality issue. Some telcos have suggested that entitles like Google and Vonage should be paying them over and above normal bandwidth fees, because they are taking advantage of their networks.

Techdirt argues that the Telcos should instead pay Google and Vonage, because those kinds of services cause more people to want broadband. The arguement is backed up by similar deals in the video business.

Read the Techdirt post

Telecom Policy Review Panel embraces Net Neutrality

This report containing recommendations for Canadian telecom policy was released yesterday, as you may have seen in today’s press.

My main interest was whether it would deal with network neutrality.

Michael Geist reports that it does indeed embrace the concept. Lets hope both the industry and the government listens to the growing demand for this concept.

Read Michael’s post for more detail

Read an earlier article of mine on the topic

Read another post of mine on the topic

More on Network Neutrality

There has been a lot written lately about the need for net neutrality. For anyone interested in more than my newspaper column from Saturday that was posted yesterday, take a look at these.

Techdirt: Why Do Broadband Providers Always Sound Like Gangsters Selling Protection?

Techdirt: Net Neutrality Equals Theft?

Techdirt: Network Neutrality And Natural Monopolies

Digg: Cable Companies: We’ll Kill VoIP

Michael Geist: Vonage Requests CRTC Investigation Into Shaw VoIP Charges

Network neutrality important

David Canton – For the London Free Press – March 11, 2006

Read this on Canoe

Internet service providers (ISPs) have been considering a new approach to their service, one that may result in a fundamental shift in how we pay for Internet access and the quality of service we receive.

The concept revolves around “traffic shaping” or the two-tiered Internet. It is of significant concern because it is counter to the concept of network neutrality, where all data over the Internet is treated equally.

The premise is this. ISPs provide users with access to the Internet. Think of it as providing the “pipe.” Users pay the ISP a monthly fee for that and may pay additional fees to their ISP or others for particular services coming through the pipe, such as VoIP phone service.

Traffic shaping is about prioritizing certain traffic over the Internet. It can be used for quality of service or to impair certain traffic.

For example, an ISP might use it to make their own VoIP service work well, but degrade the performance of other VoIP providers. Or they might use it in an attempt to control what they view as bandwidth hogs or illegal activity, such as file downloading.

Several telecom firms have complained businesses such as Google and Vonage use their networks for free and want to charge them more than under the traditional model.

One commentator likened this to an airline charging Time Warner every time a passenger brings their own copy of Time magazine on an airplane.

Some ISPs say third-party providers of content, information or services accessed over the Internet have two choices. If they pay additional fees, their traffic gets priority. If they don’t, users may get reduced performance.

That means traffic shaping will cross the line from Internet management that ensures quality and neutral service to fundamentally affecting the quality of third-party service.

This approach has been severely criticized. Critics call for network neutrality. Concern has been so great, it resulted in U.S. Senate hearings on the matter and proposed U.S. legislation.

Some are concerned the lack of network neutrality will stifle the development of Internet technology.

The argument is that the company that pays the ISP will receive the best access to users, meaning any competitors who don’t pay the ISP will receive lower-quality access to users.

Thus, the ISP and not users will decide which company offers the best service. The ISP interests then shift from providing the best service to the user in a competitive market to satisfying the interests of companies willing to pay for enhanced service.

In addition to altering the competitive playing field between independent providers of the same service, it allows an ISP an advantage for any service it wants to provide, as it can ensure it works better than other services.

We should pay the ISP for the data pipe coming into our homes as a service on its own, as we do now.

Whatever data we consume or create over that pipe (including voice and video), may or may not come from the same ISP. ISP’s should compete for those data services on their own merits – not by tinkering with the pipe.

The concept of network neutrality is important to the continued use of the Internet as we know it, and a level playing field for service providers of all kinds.