Network Neutrality hearings

The US Senate is now having hearings into the issue of network neutrality aka a two-tiered Internet.

Many telcos and cable cos want to be able to charge for traffic priority, or prioritize their own traffic, or charge businesses like Google for traffic.

There has been a lot of press on this issue recently – most of it critical of the idea – and for good reason.

Techdirt says the Internet simply doesn’t exist without network neutrality, and it would amount to: killing off what makes the internet useful… which allows them (they think) to go back their older business model which is clearly under attack from the internet.

I think this is simple. Anyone connecting to the Internet should be charged for that connection. We may pay more for more bandwidth, but essentially we pay for the “pipe”. For whatever services we use the Internet for, including TV, phone, searching – we should pay whatever the service provider we choose charges, which in many cases is nothing. If the provider of the “pipe” wants to offer those services, thats great – but they must compete on the same level playing field as others.

Read the Techdirt post

Read an earlier post of mine

Internet traffic shaping

There has been some concern raised recently that various broadband service providers may use, or may want to use, traffic shaping to prioritize their own services at the expense of services provided by others.

Traffic shaping is about prioritizing certain traffic over the Internet. It can be used for QOS (Quality of Service), or to impair certain traffic.

For example, a broadband provider might use it to make their own VoIP service work well, but degrade the performance of 3rd party VoIP providers. Or they might use it in an attempt to control what they view as bandwidth hogs or illegal activity ( eg. file downloading).

A Globe and Mail article looks at the Canadian perspective.

A techdirt post talks about attempts by US providers to gain the right to prioritze their own services. They suggest the best solution is to simply increase bandwidth.

There is no simple answer to this – but to me one thing is certain.

We are headed to a world where we will pay for the data pipe coming into our homes as a service on its own. Whatever data we consume or create over that pipe (including voice and video), may or may not come from the same provider. Broadband providers should compete for those data services on their own merits – not by tinkering with the pipe.

Read the Globe article

Read the Techdirt post

Read the wikipedia definition of “traffic shaping”