Thursday, February 26, 2009

Net Neutrality, Again

For some reason the BC government has felt the need to publish something talking about net neutrality; sample article here. Excerpt:
Net neutrality also depends heavily on investment in robust and scalable network infrastructure. However, “aggressive traffic shaping” practices contributes little to network infrastructure investment and only leads to a short-term false sense of security that existing and legacy networks can be squeezed to meet future capacity requirements. Further, the use of aggressive traffic shaping practices potentially defers what should be ongoing network upgrade practices thus potentially leading to the need for massive network investments in the future.

Woo, wasn't that fun to read. And another group of people step up and completely miss the point. Net neutrality isn't about some "right" to have unlimited connectivity to the internet, just like there's no "right" to have phone companies provide you an option for unlimited text messages for a flat fee.

Also, how come the government has a better business plan for the telecom industry than the telecom industry? I suspect ISPs everywhere have a pretty good idea that network traffic will continue to increase, and that consumers will head towards the best deals. Give me a reason why they're all so collectively short-sighted as to ignore the need for "potentially massive network investments in the future" to satisfy demand.

Net neutrality is simply this: if you pay the ISP for so many bits, they treat whatever bits you send them identically. If you pay for so many bits with a bunch of conditions in the contract, prepare for traffic shaping. If you want a superior level of service that lets you run torrents fill speed at peak hours, relative to one that pushes it to 4am, pay for it.

Basically, this entire debate results from a lack of clear understanding on the property rights. Either the contract with your ISP says that traffic shaping is part of the deal or that it isn't. There is nothing else.

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