Out of the hundreds of articles written about the recent set of principles released by Google and Verizon, this article written by Richi Jennings correctly points out two reasons why the egalitarian net neutrality concept will not work. He realizes that packet prioritization is necessary to create a good experience for all Internet users. The Internet’s architecture has changed much from the early days when it just pushed around short notes, e-mail, file transfers, terminal sessions, and net news. The services have increased to real-time and near real-time traffic like voice, video, instant messaging, and webcams. The backbone has changed from cobbled together private line connections to a complex backbone connecting many different carriers with both paid and neutral peering points. Its’ ability to adapt to the increase of users, services, and complexity is a credit to the many people that contributed to its architecture.
One of the reasons that the Internet has been so successful and extensible has been an absence of governmental interference. True that some countries have outlawed it or prevented access to certain types of material, but they have not meddled into its fundamental design. If the U.S. government intervenes by not allowing companies to add new capabilities or manage their networks, then the Internet as a whole will suffer. Every time the government creates a new law there are always unintended consequences. This time we can see them before they happen (is that possible?). Any carrier should not block or inhibit access to any lawful content provider. That is/should be a basic Internet tenant. That tenant should not exclude the classification/prioritization of traffic types as long as it is applied equally to any content provider.
Richi is one of the few people in the technical press that has enough of a technical understanding of the Internet to acknowledge that Google’s and Verizon’s principles are a good start. Holman W. Jenkins Jr. wrote an op-ed piece in today’s Wall Street Journal that acknowledges the need for traffic differentiation and recognizes that wireless is the true battlefield. I wish more of the technical press was as enlightened as these two.