Net Neutrality, Not Telconet

Here’s an article that sums up the net neutrality argument as far as I’m concerned:
The desire of AT&T, Verizon, et al to end network neutrality and assert fees for access to connected customers represents a death wish. Imagine the prospects of an info tech industry without “software neutrality” where Intel charged a fee to enhance software performance. Pay Intel and your applications run faster. The incentives driving Moore’s Law disappear in this pay-to-play model. Intel’s profit maximizing incentives become serving the interests of software companies willing to spend the most on “enhancing software performance” not the end users of computers. The meritocracy driving competition between software companies disappears as Intel picks winners and losers based on willingness to pay. Innovation becomes permission based at Intel’s discretion.

The Internet does not exist without net neutrality.

Net Neutrality Not An Optional Feature of Internet Posted in Wired + Guest Columns, By Daniel Berninger, 6 Feb 2006

We’re not tallking an HOV lane, where certain classes of service would get faster access; we already have those; users and servers can buy various speeds of access, and companies such as Akamai make a business out of picking the fastest routes. We’re talking charges for specific types of applications.

This is a whole different kettle of fish:

It amounts to airlines charging Time Warner for the right of readers to take Time magazine on an airplane. It means charging Ford tolls in addition to drivers for the right of Ford cars to use highways.
And charging them for where they go and what they do there.
Setting aside the chilling privacy concerns, the telephone network’s linkage of usage to transport represents the primary obstacle to service creation I observed during five years at Bell Labs in the 1990’s. Forcing innovators to change the network in order to implement an application means an end to innovation. The end of innovation means the end of growth in demand for Internet access.
There is a reason that the Internet won out over the ISO-OSI protocols, even with the U.S. government requiring every vendor to implement the OSI protocols and European and Japanese governments pouring money into OSI. That reason is the decentralization and application-neutral nature of the Internet: net neutrality and diverse competition.

When the World Wide Web started to catch on in 1994 and 1995, browsers started doing four TCP connections at the same time, which caused many ISPs to gripe about misuse of the net by one application to gobble up bandwidth. The result was a huge influx of users that drove expansion of the Internet. With what the telcos are currently proposing, that never would have happened, just like it never could have happened on actual telephone networks of the era, which charged by time and volume.

What did the telcos provide for new applications back then? X.25, ISDN, X.400, and X.500. How many of you have even heard of those? Meanwhile, the Internet has spawned WWW, VoIP, P2P filesharing, video documentation, web cams, and on and on.

Putting the telcos in charge of applications for the Internet would be worse than letting them stop Moore’s Law: it would be letting them stop Reed’s law. It would be letting them stop users from forming new groups and new ways to form groups.

If the U.S. decides to subvert net neutrality, that will not be the death of the Internet. It will merely be a big blow to U.S. competitiveness on the Internet. Other countries, such as Japan and Korea will continue to forge farther ahead. They already have 100Mbps Internet access for about the same price as people in the U.S. pay for 1.5Mbps. They already have burgeoning new applications, many of them producing tidy profits for their vendors; application vendors and servers who are mostly not the same as the access ISPs.

The bottom line is that net neutrality is good for freedom and business. That’s good Internet business risk management.