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Net Neutrality- a very American debate

Net Neutrality has been a very hot topic of telecom regulation and policy in the US, unlike in the rest of the world. It has largely to do with the debates over a new telecom bill to be adopted. To many, the new bill removes the age old principle of net neutrality, and therefore the debate surrounds a democrat amendment to this bill, supported by Google, Amazon, Yahoo, etc to reinsert back net neutrality and give the FCC powers to regulate. Interestingly, even Net “fathers” and “grandfathers” such as Vint Cerf and Dave Farber, do not see eye to eye on the issues. A few days ago, a Republican controlled House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee defeated this proposed amendment. The Bill moves forward to full committee for discussion next April. A small amendment to address some of the concerns have been suggested though.

Those opposed to this amendment, feel that the market and economics should determine QoS and enable carriers to make their return on investments. Proponents feel this would lead to discrimination of service (changing the nature of the Internet) or even leading to denial of service. In many other countries in the world, the focus is more around QoS than net neutrality. The Internet being a shared network cannot possibly have the telecom standard of 99.999% reliability apply. Yet some level of QoS is discussed, and apart from that minimum level, carriers can then offer higher level of services and charge for this. This seems logical, otherwise carriers will not have an incentive to increase bandwidth and users will stand to loose out in the long run. Countries such as Singapore are mandating free broadband access from 3 players up to 512kbps, but allowing them to offer higher bandwidth and QoS for a price. This will be a good testbed to see if consumers will be willing to pay more for more, or if net neutrality needs to be mandated versus market driven.

Other great resources on net neutrality include

This article was posted on Wednesday, November 1st, 2006 at 1:02 am You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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