I haven’t said much about so-called “network neutrality” yet, but I do think it is a very important issue. I don’t pretend to know all about it, but I have read enough to form some opinions. First off, here’s how the term is defined at Wikipedia:
Network neutrality is a proposed principle of network regulation. It asserts that, in order to promote innovation, network service providers such as telephone and cable internet companies should not be permitted to dictate how those networks are used (ie. not permitted to ban certain types of programs, or to ban certain types of devices connecting to the network).
Currently, this is a big political issue in the United States, but I am not sure if it has received much attention elsewhere. A draft bill scheduled to be voted on tomorrow will be revised to ensure that the FCC has tools at its disposal to address violations. This is the main idea behind the bill, at least as I understand it:
The draft bill says broadband providers must provide connectivity speeds “at least equal to the speed and quality of service” that the operator offers for its own content or that of its affiliates, and “make available the same bandwidth” to everyone.
I encourage you to read the article linked to above (at CNET News.com) as it contains some background information in addition to the current happenings.
I was a little torn between whether or not network neutrality is a good idea or not. My gut feeling and initial reactions were that net neutrality is vital for the future of the Internet, and it must be protected. As I thought about it a little more, I turned to economics, and thus my secondary thoughts were that the market should decide how these services are charged for and offered. Upon still further consideration, I feel that net neutrality is important and we should all ensure the Internet remains neutral.
There are too many “ifs” associated with a network that might become tiered or fragmented in some way – who knows what the providers might do. The last thing I would want as a business consumer is to have different Internet access, whether in performance or throughput or bandwidth, than a larger company simply because the Internet providers can squeeze large sums of money out of them.
One of the great things about the Internet is that it is open and available to everyone (I realize there are people who cannot yet afford access, or areas for which access is unavailable, but as a blanket statement, the Internet is pretty open). I think it’s important we keep it that way, so I hope laws concerning network neutrality are ratified in the United States, and eventually, elsewhere.