I came across an article in the Financial Times after AT&T announced their intended acquisition of BellSouth that questioned the impact of this acquisition on ‘net neutrality’. [See the Wikipedia entries on Network Neutrality and Net Neutrality].
I became interested in the subject and did my usual routing around on the Internet to see what the buzz was. To my surprise, the buzz is alive and well in the US and Canada.
In the US, the camps have lined up on one side or the other. The telcos, large ISPs and equipment vendors claiming there is no need for legislation while at the same time making broad statements about the value of the networks and the massive investment they have that is not being recognized fairly. Check out this article at InfoWorld which quotes one of the co-founders of the Progress and Freedom Foundation (PFF) as follows:
“There’s nothing neutral about net neutrality,” said Jeffrey Eisenach, chairman of the consulting firm CapAnalysis Group LLC and co-founder of PFF. “Net neutrality is, in fact, the theft of property rights from [broadband] infrastructure providers. It’s simple regulatory theft — the transfer of ownership from one group of people to another group of people.”
On the other side of the argument are companies like Google and Yahoo. There is a good summary in the Linux Journal by the venerable Doc Searls who argues in favour of protecting net neutrality.
The fight for Net Neutrality is for the place we call the Net. The fight against Net Neutrality is for a neutered Net biased toward carrying the next form of Cable TV. But what about the fact that most of us never have experienced Neutrality in the first place?
What’s at stake? Innovations like Voice over IP (VoIP), new ‘not yet thought of’ Internet services and unfettered access to the content of our choice; not that of the ISP you use.
It seems to me there are lots of issues here that we should be debating before it is to late.