Net neutrality nervous
The new Net neutrality legislation from Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass) seems, on the surface, to be un-objectionable. Markey isn’t asking for a law that banishes tiered services with stiff penalties for violators. He isn’t trying to codify a limited set of behaviors for broadband Internet service providers, he’s only asking for additional policy statement which hardly seem that onerous.
First, the Internet should be free to use for lawful purposes without “unreasonable” interference or discrimination by ISPs. Well, who could argue with that?
Next, the Internet should remain a “vital force in the United States economy, thereby enabling the Nation to preserve its global leadership in online commerce and technological innovation.” Oppose this statement and the National Security Administration just might tap your phone.
Third, the Internet should remain open and interconnected, and consumers should be able to use whatever devices they choose to connect to the Internet, as long as they don’t harm the network. Now, the footing gets a little trickier. Part one of the policy could be used to eliminate “walled garden” type service offerings, while part two could be used to argue against bundling handsets or modems as part of a service.
Finally, Markey wants to protect free speech and the “open marketplace of ideas” by “adopting and enforcing baseline protections to guard against unreasonable discriminatory favoritism for, or degradation of, content by network operators based upon its source, ownership, or destination on the Internet.”
Again, on the surface, this seems hard to protest -- unless offering a premium service is defined as discriminatory.
The fundamental freedom that network operators need to have going forward is the right to package and deliver their services in a way that meets market demands. We are all being bombarded by data that shows video traffic is driving up demand for bandwidth, a reality that will require both investment in infrastructure and a new service structure.
If what Markey is proposed can be used to prohibit network operators from offering premium services to both content delivery networks and to end users, then this latest Net neutrality push is no better than previous efforts. The difficulty for service providers is determining how best to interpret the “Mom and apple pie” nature of the bill’s language and how best to explain the technical challenges of their own future.
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