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Should the Net Be Neutral?


Should the Net Be Neutral?  

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  1. 1. Should the Net Be Neutral?

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From The Wall Street Journal Online Should the Net Be Neutral?

The "net neutrality" debate has reached a fever pitch as Congress mulls legislation that would allow Internet service providers to charge Web sites for preferred delivery of digital content.

Net neutrality advocates, including Internet giants like Google and Amazon.com, are lobbying Congress to preserve the status quo in which all Web content is treated the same. Phone and cable providers such as AT&T and Comcast say they should be able to sell premium tiers of service since they are investing billions to build broadband networks.

Congress is considering several competing pieces of legislation. One bill, sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton (R., Texas), embodies the phone company view, while another bill recently introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R., Wisc.) supports net neutrality. Both the House and Senate will hold hearings this week.


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Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael Copps has said the FCC is authorized under Title 1 of the Communications Act of 1934 to create agency rules to combat breaches of net neutrality. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Copps suggested that the FCC would be protecting the public interest by writing and enforcing clear agency rules designed to prevent broadband service providers from accepting money from content providers in exchange for preferential bandwidth treatment, or from interfering with the content of competitors. In contrast to the approach advocated by Copps, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin in August 2005 succeeded in passing a set of broad net neutrality principles for service providers to abide by, favoring a more deregulatory approach than Copps.

Legal precedent suggests that the FCC may have the authority to draft strict net neutrality regulations. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing in 2004 for the majority in National Cable & Telecommunications Association vs. Brand X Internet Services, said that Internet service providers can be subjected to FCC-imposed "special regulatory duties" under Title 1.

The House Judiciary Committee is currently marking up the Network Neutrality Act of 2006 [PDF text], sponsored by committee chairman Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), that would apply federal antitrust law to alleged neutrality violations. A sister bill, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act [PDF text] is currently in the Senate Commerce Committee. That proposal, sponsored by Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Daniel Inouye (D-HI), would amend the Communication Act of 1934 to obligate internet service providers to not "block, interfere with, discriminate against, impair or degrade" access to any internet content, or from bargaining with content providers to provide faster service.

[source: Copps: FCC Can Impose Net Neutrality]


[side Note: Fastest Internet Ever Coming Your Way]

"Much of the research for Internet2 is based around its high-performance backbone, called Abilene, that currently runs at up to 10 Gbps. But the Internet2 group is planning to upgrade Abilene to 80 separate channels of 10 Gbps each, using different wavelengths transmitted over fiber-optic cable. These channels could produce a mind-boggling 800 Gbps of bandwidth."

With these high-capacity networks practically asking to be used "as much as possible," when will the general public see the next-gen Net?

In part, we already are. According to the Internet2 consortium, there are about four million people -- including students in grade schools and colleges, and researchers in university, corporate, or government labs -- using extremely high-speed networks. The students in particular are expected to hasten the technology's mainstream adoption. "They're going to graduate and move into the world, and that's going to drive demand in the marketplace," says Internet2's Rotman.

Many of the next-gen Net projects are accessible to the public in formats that allow viewing on DSL or cable modem. The University of Washington, for instance, runs ResearchChannel, a consortium of 30 universities and organizations. Immersion Presents regularly makes taped videos of its expeditions available at its Web site.

Commercial uses of the next-gen Net are beginning as well. For example, Ruckus Networks in Herndon, Virginia, uses high-speed local area networks to deliver legal versions of movies and music from college-situated servers to students. Recently, it began using Internet2 to deliver new offerings to the University of Idaho.

But when will we have, say, 40 to 100 Mbps or more in the home? "Internet speed is only as good as the last mile," notes Sowmyanarayan Sampath, an analyst at the Boston Consulting Group, a technology research firm. The main backbones of the old, familiar Internet are already fiber optic; it's that last leg to your home that's the problem, as transmission usually comes over on slower phone or cable lines.

"It will be three to four years before very high speed connections start really moving into homes in the U.S.," he says, as either fiber or as new upgrades of DSL or cable. He expects that fiber itself will probably add between one and two million homes each year.

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the last time I checked.. my ping times on att's backbone were piss poor.. and we are still way behind japan and china in terms of internet connection speed...

"AT&T and Comcast say they should be able to sell premium tiers of service since they are investing billions to build broadband networks."

Those two companies can pretty much shove it.. I am sorry that google is making more money that those two companies.. but they are also paying for their connections to their data centers..

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Phone and cable providers such as AT&T and Comcast say they should be able to sell premium tiers of service since they are investing billions to build broadband networks.

Here's my take on it :If AT&T  & Comcast don't want to spend billions to build broadband networks then no one is forcing them with the law anyway.So they can let the companies that want to invest in this build them instead.I somehow think they don't want to not build them.So why if there losing money?

My answer is they know these improvements will pay for themselves even with a neutral net so they will do them even if they aren't allowed to sell  premium tiers .The premium tiers  would just allow them to make more money.

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Getting Fiber to Homes Faster

By Kate Greene

A new circuit that combines electrical and optical components could speed the deployment of fiber-optic networks to homes, which would usher in a host of new services, including Internet-protocol television. The technology is currently being developed by a handful of companies in both the United States and Japan.

Today, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) is available in only about 15 U.S. cities, as well as some urban areas in Japan, Korea, and China, in part because it takes a huge investment of time and money to build all the infrastructure: to dig new trenches, to lay new fiber, and to install the fiber utility box on homes.

But there's another hold up: it's expensive to manufacture and deploy all the individual optic-fiber devices, called "triplexers," that must be affixed to houses. These triplexers, which come into play where the fiber connects to the home, contain the electrical and optical components that guide and collect the data-carrying photons that become Web pages, telephone calls, or video.

Today's triplexers are made in two separate steps: optical waveguides are deposited on a chip, and then separately housed lasers and detectors must be carefully aligned and attached to the waveguides. Since much of the alignment must be done manually, manufacturing is costly and time-consuming, says Mario Dagenais, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maryland. The new triplexer PLC technology is able to integrate optical and electrical components onto a single chip, Dagenais says, by borrowing well-honed processes from semiconductor chip manufacturing.

As of February 2006, 3.6 million homes in the United States had the capability for a direct fiber connection, yet there were only about 548,000 subscribers, according to the Fiber-to-the-Home Council and Telecommunications Industry Association.

Technology Review Inc. MIT


House panel votes for Net neutrality

"update WASHINGTON--A bill that seeks to prevent broadband providers from offering an exclusive high-speed lane for video and other services has taken a step closer to becoming law."

"By a 20-13 vote Thursday that partially followed party lines, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would require broadband providers to abide by strict Net neutrality principles, meaning that their networks must be operated in a "nondiscriminatory" manner."

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ISPs warn of price rises as panel approves 'Net Neutrality' bill

The US House Judiciary Committee approved a bill yesterday to prevent broadband providers from charging extra fees to websites for delivering their content to users. But the law would be "a direct financial hit to consumers," say internet providers.

[What sparked all this?]

AT&T CEO Edward Whitacre sparked the controversy last November. In an interview with Business Week he was asked whether he was concerned about "internet upstarts" like Google, MSN, Vonage and others.

According to edited excerpts from that interview, he replied: "How do you think they're going to get to customers? Through a broadband pipe. Cable companies have them. We have them. Now what they would like to do is use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them do that because we have spent this capital and we have to have a return on it. So there's going to have to be some mechanism for these people who use these pipes to pay for the portion they're using. Why should they be allowed to use my pipes?"

He continued: "The Internet can't be free in that sense, because we and the cable companies have made an investment and for a Google or Yahoo! or Vonage or anybody to expect to use these pipes [for] free is nuts!"

The new bill pre-empts and blocks the introduction of internet tolls for content providers.

Unsurprisingly, major providers have voiced their displeasure.

Christopher Wolf, co-chairman of the Hands Off The Internet coalition, which counts AT&T and Alcatel among its members, said the vote was "more about politics than substance."

He added: "The fact is that internet neutrality regulations would be a direct financial hit to consumers and stop cold the country's progress in providing affordable high-speed options."

Verizon executive Tom Tauke also attacked the vote.

"Simply put, net neutrality legislation endangers both the future of video choice and the accelerated broadband investment that is just beginning to gain traction," he said.

The Institute for Liberty, a public policy group that exists to promote "principles and policies of honour" said the bill "threatens to smother the internet in a sea of unneeded regulations all in the name of the contrived 'network neutrality.'"

"Today's vote will be remembered as one of the saddest days for the internet as we know it," it said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Free Press, Consumers Union, Consumer Federation of America, Media Access Project and US PIRG, will welcome the result.

In a joint statement issued shortly before the vote, the coalition of consumer groups said: "A growing alliance in Congress recognises that Network Neutrality is not a partisan issue, but one of grave importance to anyone who wishes to see the internet remain an unrivalled environment for innovation, civic participation and free speech."

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now unless i had a bad dream the system of site operators paying their provider for the traffic they generate and those providers in turn paying off the backbone providers etc has been in place a long time and seems to have worked out so far. so if vonage wants to create a load of traffic with voip then they would be getting a bill for said traffic, no? in turn the backbone operators would be paid for the traffic generated. it has been a fairly open market with different providers forming individual contracts about what traffic to direct onto whose net for what fee.

why does that have to be changed? i wouldn't call it neutral since backbone providers can theoretically charge one company more than another, but then that company can always go somewhere else. :shrug:

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