Net Neutrality

Question

What exactly is “Net Neutrality”?

-Jacob

Answer

This question was answered on July 21, 2006. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

The term “Net Neutrality” (short for Network Neutrality) is referring to the current state of the Internet where no matter who you are and what you are trying to access, all Internet traffic is treated the same.

Net Neutrality has become one of the hottest debates on the Internet, because recent deregulation of the broadband market gave telecommunication companies the “theoretical” freedom to charge content providers different rates for different levels of service on their networks.

In other words, they could charge large companies like Google and Microsoft extra to makes sure that a customer can get to their site through their network, especially for emerging new services such as streaming video and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

This debate can get very confusing because Net Neutrality proponents are pushing for legislation to deter what the recent loosening of regulations could potentially create In other words, keep the Internet free with government regulations – a very paradoxical stance.

Those pushing for net neutrality legislation are claiming without it, the open and free nature of the Internet where every surfer and every Internet site has equal access to the network could become more like cable television; you get whatever your carrier will provide to you.

Each carrier could charge companies like Google and Microsoft extra money to ensure that the carriers customers could get to these sites more readily than those that were not willing to pay They paint the future as a two tiered Internet for the haves and have-nots where a carrier could even go as far as blocking sites that were not willing to pay the extra fees.

Opponents of Net Neutrality legislation (companies like AT&T and Comcast) stress that the Internet is already regulated by several agencies that would not allow them to block access to specific sites and that the free market should be left to shape the future of the Internet.

They go on to stress that in order to take the Internet to the next level of content (video, voice, etc.) they need to be able to charge for it Innovation get’s stifled with regulation in their opinion.

What’s the answer to this debate? Their really isn’t a clear answer since both sides are speculating what will happen if their version of the Internet does not prevail

To make things worse, both sides are using emotional “single issue” campaigns to try to make this complicated debate seem very black and white, but the truth is there is a lot of grey area.

As of this writing, the attempt to get Net Neutrality legislation passed has been defeated in both the House and the Senate Commerce Committee but proponents are pushing for a revival of the measures to the full Senate in the Fall.

If you want to get each sides complete view of the debate, visit HandsOff.org for why legislation is harmful and <a href="http://www.SaveTheInternet.com " target="_">SaveTheInternet.com</a> for why we need new legislation.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on July 21, 2006