Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

What is everyone’s thoughts on the net neutrality ruling yesterday? Listening to the news, I hear a lot of negative responses from the media about slowing down the Internet. From the ISP standpoint, the goal is not to “slow down the Internet”. The goal is to improve the quality of their own services on their own networks. Service providers do want more people using their networks doing more things (i.e. using more data). However, they do prefer that customers use their services as opposed to a competitor's service. And it’s really all about streaming of real-time video. All other data services are drops in the buckets compared to real-time video. That is why you are seeing content providers being purchased by service providers.

I think the regulator stepping to define service levels in is dangerous. Instead of telling ISPs what to do, it needs to encourage competition. The fact that you only have one or two residential ISP options in many places is the real issue in my mind. I don't even have ADSL based options where I live.

Forcing ISPs to behave in a certain way reduces their income and risks stifling investment in infrastructure. That, in turn, reduces innovation.

Encourage competition and let ISPs choose what service they want to provide, and we'll all be better off.

This is a great topic! I've actually seen a few discussions about it on my social media the past few days.

I have a few thoughts on the consumption / economical aspects of this topic, but honestly I think I don't have enough knowledge about economics and the relevant law. I also firmly believe that economics (as of today) is pretty vague and uncertain, so I'd rather not take my chances on predicting what will happen.

Let me just point out that content providers are commercial companies as well, and they have the potential to form a monopoly and force the ISPs to work under their conditions.

Oh and let's be honest here - we're probably marching towards a future with just a few corporations controlling most of the aspects of our lives :)

Anyway, I am much more interested about the technical aspect of the topic. I know a few IT guys personally but they're not the corporate type and neither of them worked for any ISP. I have my own assumptions, but I am only a (puny) programmer after all, so I was wondering if you guys could shed some light here.

I think it's fair to assume that in a net-neutral world the ISPs will offer a few options for a subscription based on performance - you want better internet, you need to pay more.

I believe that this will drastically decrease the capability of the ISPs to provide a good service, if we compare this with a non-neutral net.

How so? Well, the major difference between the neutral and non-neutral worlds is where the ISP focuses on performance tuning. With a neutral net, the focus lies on improving specific customers' performance, as they pay more. With a non-neutral net, it lies on specific services' performance.

Now, my intuition tells me that focusing on the services is by far easier and more effective, due to multiple reasons:

- Services have fixed (server) locations and IP addresses, customers do not.

- The data characteristics of a service are far more predictable and far less generic than that of a customer, which makes it easier to tune.

- It's a lot easier to collaborate with a service rather than with customers.

Also, as far as I've heard (I could be hugely misinformed here), there are services who pay the ISPs to build custom-made farms / CDNs for them. If this is true, it might not happen as often with net-neutral laws, as the ISPs will not have a clear incentive to do so.

Oh and one last thing -- correct me if I'm wrong -- but isn't it impossible to provide good enough latency for all of the relevant services without any efforts on their end? I'm talking about video games (low bandwidth necessity, but very "high" latency necessity) , video chats, live streaming -- as in real-time streaming (more like than netflix) and other miscellaneous (remote control software?).

So, any input on these technical aspects? I'm curious to know :)

Thanks to the complex nature of the US legal system, each state can try and enforce net neutrality on its own:

Everyone needs to get involved.