Network Neutrality and my take on it.

Following Scott Adams’ blog post on “Who is allowed to have an opinion?”, here’s the post from NYTimes that you read before you can have an opinion on Net neutrality.

My take on it is fairly simple. Since this law is being passed, be prepared for a world of hurt that is having carriers choosing what is “good”. Remember all those years of crappy mobile phones before Apple set us free? Yeah, apply that to the internet.

Briefly, the current rules say wired networks have to be network neutral, that is, it’s illegal to prefer one types of traffic over others (P2P throttling is illegal, as is preferring voice/video traffic over data). This also leaves out bandwidth intensive applications that might come up in the future for which these rules need not apply. Google says this is to encourage net neutrality, although I fail to see why.

So, why is this good? This way, Brighthouse, my cable company can’t basically say that they’re protecting their network / business model and throttle netflix / hulu traffic because they have their own cable service. Or they could act like the mafia and have online content providers pay for using their tubes to provide data. Or, this could also mean customer service calls along the lines of –  ”Well, you’ve subscribed for the basic package of our internet sir, you need the premium package to use Voice / Video streaming services”. Not pretty.

But is all traffic shaping bad? This moves us to traffic shaping in wireless networks. With the bandwidths that we have currently, and considering the sheer number of devices that access a single access point, say in some place like NYC, the case for traffic shaping is definitely there. Under high traffic situations, I would rather selectively throttle bandwidth intensive applications like YouTube than completely degrade service for the rest of the world interested in keeping up with the markets or navigating with maps. But again, this leads us to the same conundrum. What if companies under this guise block apps like Google Voice? How can we ensure that the corporations act under the user’s interest and not their own, especially when it affects their bottom line because users are choosing a competing service (Google voice) over their own? (Standard mobile voice band)

In short, trusting corporations is a pain in the neck. At worst, you’ll end up with a closed down platform with only carrier approved apps running on your phone, and that’s not a price worth paying for anything.

In short, I’m for Network neutrality in the spirit of innovation and fairness. It has its drawbacks, but on the whole, I’m convinced it’s for the good of the internet. But despite what I say, the senate approved it, and I’m just a lowly non-immigrant ranting on the interweb. 


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