Thursday, June 22, 2006

Net neutrality has ruined the web

Thomas Greene has seen the light with the help of telco lobbyists and their new animated cartoon "explaining" what a bad idea net neutrality is.

"I thought I knew something about networking, but according to an animated cartoon by telco lobbyists, I've been laboring under numerous misconceptions. For example, I'd always believed it possible to increase both capacity and bandwidth without the kind of traffic discrimination that the telcos would like to introduce. Apparently, that's wrong.

The cartoon clearly illustrates that network neutrality makes it impossible for broadband providers to increase capacity and bandwidth. You've simply got to discriminate between cheap packets and expensive packets to accommodate a large traffic flow. This was an astounding revelation to me...

you need fiber to carry expensive packets. You don't want them mingling with cheap ones.

Silly me; I thought that capacity is capacity, and bandwidth is bandwidth. I'm glad I didn't write any foolish articles advocating net neutrality before I saw that cartoon. It's all so clear now. Evidently, the internet has never worked. And the reason it hasn't worked has nothing to do with corporate greed or media consolidation or general over-promising; it's because the internet is one dumb pipe that can't tell a cheap packet from an expensive one."

Hilarious. The cartoon, although very misleading, is very clever and could easily sway people who don't understand the technology or the debate, like er... politicians.

Update: Seth Johnson and co have a simple suggestion on the Net neutrality debate: let the network operators develop proprietory networks enabling them to control data traffic on those networks but don't let them call these walled gardens 'the Internet' and prosecute distorted offerings of Internet connectivity as "deceptive practice." So in Benkler's three layers, the TCP/IP code layer would remain neutral on the Internet. They've produced a nice introduction and summary for Congressional staff. This solution has a very neat ring to it that avoids the huge complications of trying to regulate Net neutrality at the content/applications layer which is what certain US proposals were attempting to do. It also facilitates competition between these walled gardens focussed on delivering content to the passive viewer and the real Internet which faciltates indiscriminate data flows.

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