Net Neutrality

Submitted by Martha Eakin on Fri, 06/02/2006 - 10:07.

 A while back this issue came up on Realneo. Over at Bytes from Lev, he has a good explanation of what is at stake:

And there's this from  If we like using the internet, we need to "listen up".

"A bipartisan majority on the House Judiciary Committee yesterday (5/25/06)passed the "Internet Freedom and Nondiscrimination Act" -- a good bill that would use antitrust law to protect Network Neutrality. Special thanks to those of you who called the key members who cast the deciding votes.

The struggle in Congress isn't over. The full House will take up the bipartisan Judiciary bill (H.R. 5417) -- as well as the massive rewrite of the Telecom Act -- after they return in June. The Senate is also considering major legislation that currently fails to protect Net Neutrality, though a bipartisan group of Senators are lining up behind the excellent Snowe-Dorgan bill (S. 2917)."


The telephone company's argument that their “pipelines” are being taken advantage of by internet users, (suggesting that the internet use is somehow different and more burdensome than the prior telephone use) and that the telephone companies need to differentiate service levels on the web in order to recover  fair compensation -  is an entirely specious argument. 


Here’s why:


 first of all  the telephone companies are giving Americans obsolete connections to the web – because 99% of America’s internet is carried over the same copper telephone lines which have been hanging out on the telephone pole for the last 60 or more years.  The USA’s internet quality is 13th or 14th down from the top – South Korea (they had fiber to every residence 10 years ago) has perhaps the best internet service in the world.  So while the telephone Co’s are crying foul, it should instead be their customers who are complaining about the obsolete system in the USA.


Secondly, those same copper wires which supplied our telephones for years were never subject to the kind of “queuing” priority which the telcos are now advocating for internet service.   Think about it, when you went to make a telephone call, your call was never subject to being placed ahead of, or behind other customers calls (or handled faster or slower) on the basis of what each customer paid.  Large corporations like IBM, or Bank of America with their huge numbers of telephones, got the same telephone call “speed” as Mrs. McGillicutty down the block.   


For the telecos to now suggest that they need to be allowed to differentiate internet service speed and use priority - based on how much a customer pays - is  creating a “class” system on the wires where until now there has been no differentiation.   The teleco’s argument that net neutrality is disadvantaging them is a fraud.  The telecos with internet electrons running over their wires are actually in the same position as they have always been vis a vis the electrons which flowed over the wires for telephones.  Because their arguments are false, the telcos are essentially attempting to extort additional income from the same telephone wires where they offer no additional service nor incur any additional cost  

Future of telecom

You bring up lots of important points, without touching what concerns me most, which is freedom of speech and protection of intellectual property, under attack in America.

Big companies have always worked directly with the telcos on designing infrastructure and negotiating every possible business advantage - first Centrex, which was like a community switch dedicated to a company, located at the telco, with better pricing, billing and moves/adds/changes per line and unbundled interconnect, bought by bandwidth, e.g. T1, T3 - next trend was locating massive voice processing switches and automated call distribution systems (ACD) and interactive voice response (IVR) technology within their enterprises, interconnected via private campus, metro and wide area networks of unbundled interconnect, bought by bandwidth, e.g. T1, T3 - next much of that has gone wireless, for line of sight interconnect (campus and closer) - and long haul has moved to "the Internet" via the transition of voice communications from analog to digital and the convergence of all communications data into computer based platforms, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), best articulated in Skype in the public space, and now multimedia including text messaging and emailing by portable devices, like cell phones and Treos.

The development of open source solutions to enterprise and individual communications requirements that completely bypass traditional telco networks has forced the telcos to reconfigure into entertainment and content and wireless and cable and sat cos that tend to fail in most of what they attempt to do - technology and communications are evolving so fast, at the global level, that the telcos cannot compete with their legacy systems and shrinking customer base, but they can squeeze every cent out of that as they fail. They can also use their massive market and capital clout to buy into new technologies and industries, and consolidate to gain more concentrated clout and eliminate competition, which eliminates fair market pricing. Add corrupt regulators and politicians and lobbyists and equipment interests, and the record and movie and other traditional content industries and homeland security and the defense industry and you must accept nothing is as it seems - the desired outcome is that the Federal government have the level of control of free speech and intellectual property in America that the Chinese government has in China - complete oppression. Many big businesses will make $ billions accomplishing this goal. Ultimately, the Federal government controls what happens to all the wires and fiber and satellites and servers and content in America, and they want it all completely under Federal control. Everything else is designed to accomplish that.

What's in our future? Cleveland could be a major center of the US communications and computing underground, picking up and relaying pirate point to point WiMax Internet feeds from Canada via a network of constantly roaming repeaters - never on line long enough to track - we may have safe barges just off US territory in Lake Erie where US citizens would go by boat seeking free Internet contact with friends and family in the outside world. Or, we can start electing intelligent leaders who understand the global economy, technology and human rights better than out current leaders.

In a free and open market, without  totalitarian régimes in America or China (the greatest threats to digital human rights), and without World Federalist tampering with individuals freedoms, the internet will evolve into a more robust, faster, cheaper digital network - we will see faster internet protocols improve throughput via better technologies, with real security, all provided by a series of new entrepreneurial companies innovating in multiple dimensions of hardware, software and pure science, leveraging even old copper lines (and powerlines, for that matter), driving paradigm shifts in wireless access and connectivity across the globe.

Remember, all Americans will shortly have RFID-type chips under our skin, tracking our every move and transaction, all via "the Internet", and we will be doing that years behind that becoming commonplace in other countries worldwide.

Knowing in the future our every movement and word will be tracked by technology, there is the need for you and me and other NEO community leaders to participate at the global level of debate on freedom of expression and intellectual property, and force the most progressive intellectual property and social computing concepts into broad understanding and use here - right here - in NEO. That's the whole point of REALNEO - to get our people used to open source, and content management, and virtual community, so we can be smart as we address these critical global issues in the next elections for Governor and President, and as we deal with local government, non-profit and business leaders who don't understand the future of information technology and the dangers of poor judgement at this cirtical time of global economic transformation. You bring up a few concerns, that just scratch the surface. Let's elevate the debate to include our local IT luminaries... whoever they are?