May 21, 2006

Issue By Request

My regular readers are such a rare and treasured breed, I do whatever I can to keep them happy. You ask for something, you get it.

Today's issue request comes from Erin of Hawaii: Network Neutrality.

Network neutrality is the principal that internet service providers, or ISP's provide the same level of service to everyone on the net. Everybody's web page loads up at the same rate.

Recently there has been talk among ISP's that companies like Google have been getting rich off their connections, so they should be getting a taste. They are proposing "preferred service" That is to say, pay us money, and your page will load faster. Don't pay and face slowdowns, er, "regular service"

There is a bill working through Congress that would put "net neutrality" into law and prevent this. The big telecoms are fighting this. You can find the latest here.

The ISP's do have a case. They are spending billions on broadband and Google and yahoo are riding that investment to a lambergini for every employee.

Still, we don't expect the phone companies to get a cut of all business deals that get concluded over the phone. Not to mention that media companies are unholy combinations of all sorts of media. When the ISP is owned by the media company, all kinds of problems show up. I do not want only Comcast-owned video to load fast from my Comcast broadband connection. Have you seen Comcast-produced porn? Terrible stuff.

Not to mention once you start picking and choosing what internet content gets priority, all kinds of mischief can result. Let's say I complain about my phone service or my Cable TV bill on my blog and all of a sudden my blog loads slow? And if I want to get really paranoid, do ISP's support Democrat's or Republicans? You can get Bush speeches with 500k streaming video, but Gore speeches only stream at 100K.

I say pass the law. Protect the Net!


Chris said...

Actually, Google and Yahoo already pay for their bandwidth, so this seems pretty much like a shakedown. Moreover, the Internet isn't designed so that you could easily apply a priority system. Actually the overhead in running bits from different sources at different speeds might slow down the net as a whole and make everything less efficient.

As a computer scientists, I say that they phone companies are totally in the wrong here.

Erin said...

The ISP providers sound like a bunch of mobsters and this "preferred service" smells like a rat. My ISP provider is the only one in my region and it treats it's customers like, well, rat dropings. We the customers are often paying a fortune for internet service (okay, it's only a fortune for those of us with empty pockets), but it's not enough and they have to stick it to the people who have webpages? And if it's difficult (read: expensive) to set up a priority system to begin with, then I'll bet it really is a racket: the ISP's threaten page owners, take the cash and probably never bother to set up a priority system. (Erin in Denmark)