New Net Neutrality Bill Proposed - HotHardware
New Net Neutrality Bill Proposed

New Net Neutrality Bill Proposed

The ISP network throttling debate continues on Capital Hill: News.com reports that two Democratic Congressmen, John Conyers from Michigan and Zoe Lofgren from California, have introduced new legislation designed to prevent network providers from prioritizing Internet traffic and content.

Just like last time, the bill would rewrite U.S. antitrust law to prohibit network operators like AT&T and Comcast from blocking, impairing, or discriminating against "lawful" Internet content, applications, and services or charging extra fees for "prioritization or enhanced quality of service."

"The Internet was designed without centralized control, without gatekeepers for content and services," Conyers said in a statement. "If we allow companies with monopoly or duopoly power to control how the Internet operates, network providers could have the power to choose what content is available."

This is not the first time such legislation has been proposed. Similar bills were proposed in 2006, but were never passed into law. Proponents of enacting net neutrality legislation are a number of big Internet companies such as Google and Yahoo, as well as advocacy groups, such as Consumers Union and the American Electronics Association--who "argue rules are necessary to keep the Internet free, open, and democratic, so that small start-ups can be on a level playing field with more established companies."  

Network operators such as Comcast and AT&T, not surprisingly, oppose such legislation on grounds that "new rules will stifle investments in new broadband networks and deprive them of the flexibility they need to keep their services running smoothly." Many share the opinion of Cisco's Robert Pepper that the market will adjust accordingly to the needs of the users and that a tiered system will better meet the varied demands of those users, therefore government-mandated oversight is not necessary.

Even readers of HotHardware appear split in their opinions as to whether net neutrality legislation is necessary. We'd like to know what you think about the net neutrality debate, so please tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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It may not be necessary yet, but it will. It would be best to get net neutrality legislation in place now, before the ISPs become too powerful and carried away with their control of the network.

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I'm a firm supporter of Net Netruality and am pleased to see the issue are still considered.

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In order to deliver high-quality video on the Internet, some network packets must be prioritized, and by definition, some network packets must be dropped. There is a fear some websites will be blocked - this is not true - just delayed. High quality video is very bandwidth-intensive and requires prioritization, otherwise the video will pause all the time. Just to give you an idea, watching a full DVD would take over a week to download using the fastest dial-up modem, assuming everything is running at full speed (which is never the case). In order to deliver high-quality web entertainment, new investment must be made to increase bandwidth significantly, and in order to justify this investment, ISPs must have the flexibility to charge a premium for those who wants these new services. There is a big business opportunity for ISPs to deliver high quality video on the web and replace Calbe Television. Blaming greed is not fair, because so far the Internet has been operated on profit motive. The Internet is not, and never will be, a charity-based business.

ISPs want to offer website packages to their customers for high-quality video, the same as when you subscribe to special channels on Cable TV. Of course, those websites will have priority over the other websites because of the real-time nature of delivering video content. The corporations sponsoring Net Neutrality, such as Microsoft and Google, are not charitable either; they want to get the same bandwidth windfall so their website get the same priority as the privileged video websites. Net Neutrality is rent seeking, that is, having equal access to distribute the videos using the ISPs network, without investing in the network infrastructure. Following the same logic as "Net Neutrality", the same could be said for "Television Neutrality" where any corporation could add their own TV channels without paying anything to the Cable TV providers. Because the Internet is gaining popularity and technology could allow real-time high-quality video, there is an irresistible temptation for non-ISPs to legislate bandwidth so they can start distributing video on the web to replace Cable TV - at the expense of the ISPs.

So far, the Internet has been doing fine without Net Neutrality. Some websites will have higher priority, but even the low-priority websites will benefit from the extra idle bandwidth. By increasing competition, it is likely prices for Cable TV will drop, the same as long distance calls are dropping because of VoIP.

I am not affiliated with any ISPs or own any shares. I am a computer engineer. I care about the freedom of the Internet and don’t want this marvelous technology to fall into the wrong hands. One thing I distrust the most are politicians, however well intended, they will screw up. Giving power to politicians to regulate the Internet will not foster innovation.

Bandwidth throttling is a normal business activity to prevent abuse. Bandwidth is cheap, nevertheless not free. Trying to impose a law to prevent traffic throttling will make things worse. Please read "Europe's Internet Trouble" regarding regulations at http://www.mises.org/story/2851

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