Partly Right

I agree with much of this blog post:

More specifically, Verizon’s chief congressional lobbyist Peter Davidson was reported to have warned that the financial services industry "better not start moaning in the future about a lack of sophisticated data links they need" if Net neutrality laws were passed. In such a case, the communications industry may not invest in new networks.

Davidson’s got it half-right. Service providers should be able to charge more for better connections. It’s the only way you and I are ever going to see VoIP connections that work well all the time.

Verizon’s Half-Truths About Net Neutrality by Dave Greenfield, networkingpipeline, May 09, 2006

As I’ve said before, I have no objection to 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.

But the telcos need to provide a further guarantee, so we don’t end up back in the days of trading guns for modems.

In addition to charging extra for certain classes of service, the telcos need to provide a level playing field:

But service providers should also the same equipment needed to deliver those "sophisticated data links" to prove that they’re not sabotaging slower links in order to force customers to upgrade to higher speed connections. This calls for providing a clear definition of "best effort" Internet service through a Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

I don’t know that Greenfield’s specific suggestion for how to do that is the only way, but it’s an example of one way. Given that he suggested me and InternetPerils as examples of

Network performance should be monitored by third-party tools available to carriers and users,

you’re probably not surprised that I don’t object.

However, I still find Verizon’s constant complaints that net neutrality means they can’t afford to provide high speed services disingeneous, because they know as well as Greenfield does that SLAs can help a lot. And they never seem to mention Japan and Korea, where broadband is ten times faster than stateside, and application companies provide the fast applications while the telcos provide the fast broadband.