Monday, January 24, 2011

Net Neutrality .... FCC Move To Regulate The Internet .... Good Or Bad Idea?

Based on news reports, this issue is expected to be a real show-down this year between the Obama Administration and the Republican controlled House of Representatives.

Recent public opinion surveys suggest that anywhere from 54% to 79% of Americans oppose the FCC position on regulating the Internet. These same surveys suggest that most people are not following closely this very important issue facing the Internet and telecom policy?

For the record the FCC is NOT trying to "regulate the Internet"; that job long since belongs to IETF and ICANN. The FCC is trying to make sure that the Internet can continue to operate in the way it was intended, on a first-come-first-served basis.

Right now, data packets that hit a network node are processed more or less in order of receipt, regardless of whether they came from you, me, Microsoft, or the White House. This is called "the Net neutrality"; the network doesn't give preference to anyone.

Meanwhile, there are companies that would like, given the opportunity, to change that and handle data packets in the order determined by who paid for what level of handling priority. In simple terms, they want to do the same job they are doing now, but for more money.

Until recently, there was no way to actually do this. The Internet operated primarily on Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4), which allowed no such chicanery. Over time, Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), with which this is actually possible, is becoming more widespread, so the dream may actually come true.

So, once you have the firm grasp of the relevant facts, the answer should be obvious: Congress should pass a resolution praising the FCC's efforts at maintaining the Net neutrality.

That said .... the effort is not without flaws. Too many "special interests" are influencing the process .... so the ultimate "decision" may create more of a mess than this effort is supposedly trying to prevent.

I am personally in favor of net neutrality regulation but there is some political risks to additional power grabs, in response to economic power grabs by vendors. My mental analogy, is the creeping, nickel and diming that banks continue to extra fee for this, ....that, and getting up in the morning. Half way between phone company and where firms would like to be, are the extra fees that appear on my phone bill these days....effectively doubling the advertized service price.

I enjoy the fact that the Internet is free. Totally free. Buyer beware, you're on your own, you're free to explore and exchange ideas and participate with no holds barred.

The moment government even looks at something it messes it up, and this to me is no different.

If it's all about tiered pricing, well, then, why not do the same thing for cable television?

They're trying to "fix" something that isn't even remotely broken.

So, is it a good idea to regulate the internet with the FCC? Probably. The prospect of maintaining neutrality and fairness is important to the entrepreneurs and little guys which are so important. It would require the FCC to implement proper and proportional regulation, rather than the punitive regulation seen in the 1960's and 70's from the ICC. The best practice would be for the industry to form a self-regulating body that proposes and submits rules to the FCC in good faith, ensuring the industry and FCC work together rather than in opposition.

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Anonymous James Waldrop - HostMyCalls Hosted PBX Service said...

The reason we are having a Net Neutrality debate is that there is not enough competition in the broadband market. Corporations like Comcast and Verizon must maximize their profit and act in the best interest of their shareholders. No where on their list of priorities do they have the utopian goal of protecting an open Internet. This does not make them evil. It is just the facts. How can an open Internet be in sync with the responsibilities of Comcast and Verizon? That is simple. Competition.

Real time applications like Netflix, online gaming and VoIP are rapidly becoming the most popular uses on the Internet. Could Verizon and Comcast block or slow down some of this content while going head-to-head against a competitor that does not? Not likely since losing revenue would not be maximizing their profit potential. And that would be far more effective than any regulation government could ever put in place.

9:29 AM  

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