Monday, July 12, 2010

The Future of the Internet: Net Neutrality

Manish Mamidanna of Scatter Tech writes a complete argument (The Future of the Internet: Net Neutrality) on net neutrality covering the deficiencies with the ISP, but he does not make a case for legislated net neutrality. We have been living under de facto net neutrality for years. There have been almost no instances of violation except for a few cases where the appropriate legal remedies were applied. ISP in the U.S. do not block content and they allow us to use any type of equipment we wish. ISP employ traffic management when required so a few excessive users do not completely degrade access for the rest of us. There are several cases where the network becomes saturated with traffic during peak hours so users start seeing long latencies that affect voice and video. By limiting those users cranking up P2P during peak times, all users enjoy a pleasant Internet experience. The ISP are adding bandwidth to their networks but not fast enough to keep up with demand. Even if we had unlimited bandwidth, traffic management is still necessary. Access bandwidth is limited whether it is DSL, cable modem, or mobile. The place I want the ISP to innovate is in offering greater bandwidth and the ability to prioritize services. The ISP got is right that all bits are not created equal. We need to be able to say which content is more important to maximize quality of experience. I want the content providers to innovate on how content is delivered. More competition between ISP and access providers will keep the net neutral. If any legislation is required, it is to prevent any legislation blocking the building of competitive access networks. Making profits is not evil and neither ISP nor content providers should not be vilified for trying to do so. It is these profits that spur the innovation and jobs that Manish would like to see. Our economic system is based on private companies providing the products and services we need. It sounds to me like he is advocating the Venezualean economic system. Once again I go back to driving ISP competition. Two or less providers does not make a competitive market. A true free marketplace would be where there is more access competition because legislated net neutrality will actually hurt those same people Manish thinks it is trying to protect.

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