Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Edward W. Felten: Nuts and Bolts of Network Neutrality

Edward W Felton of Princeton provides a great overview of the complexities of Network Neutrality. He breaks it down in 7 section and provides a take away for each one.

From the paper: (PDF)
  1. "This is partly a fight to control innovation on the Internet.
  2. Discrimination has harsher and milder forms. Blocking a packet is harsher than just lowering its priority.
  3. Discrimination hurts some applications more than others. VoIP services are especially vulnerable to discrimination.
  4. Anti-discrimination rules can be hard to write and hard to enforce.
  5. Network discrimination will have unpredictable effects.
  6. Technical countermeasures, such as encryption, cannot fully shield users from discrimination.
  7. Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees are less important than you might think."
Of course if you want to get an idea of why all of this might be hard to regulate, think back several days to the brilliant explanation Senator Ted Stevens gave of the Internet.

Sen. Ted Stevens:

"There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service isn't going to go through the interent and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially."



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