Net Neutrality

pontificating on net neutrality options...

… i was able to have an outstanding conversation yesterday about net neutrality, with “one of the canadian biggies”… and i actually took the stance that net neutrality and the whole sordid debate was a little premature. That instead of arguing over it, and trying to force all bits to be the same, why not embrace the difference in the bits. Let’s go one step further, and let end users embrace their special bits, and give them portal power to change how the network should treat their bits.


The network provider who can harness the power of the dynamic classes of service, and present it to their customers in a way that is easy to manipulate and understand will be able to easily differentiate itself in the market. Not to mention the option of being able to get out of the commodity bandwidth business, if only briefly.

How thrilled would you be, if on monday you could prioritize your voice traffic, because you were working from home, and thursday you could prioritize your video traffic, because you were downloading movies for the weekend…. or if on saturday you wanted to prioritize music, so you could fill your iPod for a party that night?

Indeed - carriers and content providers alike could have “priority VPN” services… you could get iTunes Pro or MySpace Pro or NetFlicks Pro…

Back in the ’90s, when i worked for one of the first ISPs in Canada, i swore i’d never pay for internet access - why would i - dialup was all i ever needed, and i could always swing a dialup account somewhere…. silly me. I am thrilled to be paying for what is now an essential service. I have a feeling i’d be even more thrilled to pay for being able to differentiate my essential bits.

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The Crux of Net Neutrality...

In Canada, there is growing interest and concern in the different directions that carriers and content providers are exploring; relative to Net Neutrality.

There is a pro-net-neutrality site that is petitioning the Canadian Government to seriously consider the implications of allowing internet services to run unchecked by the carriers. They support a neutral network architecture, but interestingly enough, they support Quality of Service (QoS), and the measuring of bits and bites (getting what you pay for and paying for what you get), which is outstanding, they are simply against the ugly underbelly of QoS, which is prioritizing of traffic based on protocol, source and content.

That being said, it’s exactly that discriminatory part of QoS that the carriers have their eye on.  Being able to promote specific content, specific protocols and specific sources, and making that traffic easier to access than a competitor’s has an alluring appeal to some network providers.

I want to go where I want on the internet, and regardless of where I go: Amazon or Ebay or iTunes or Joes Underground Goth Recipes, I want to go there unfettered. I don’t want to know that if I’m an iTunes addict I’m going to get charged more than if I’m a Puretracks junkie, if i’m a Bell Canada Customer, or vice versa if I’m a TELUS customer. If the carriers suggest that downloading a certain amount of bits and bytes per month is going to cost $X, that’s fine, but don’t tell me that downloading from iTunes is going to cost more or less than downloading from Puretracks.




Net Neutrality in Canada

While net neutrality supports metered billing based on counting bits and bytes, it does not support metered billing based on the content type. E-Mail, Video, VoIP and gaming services alike MUST be billed in a consistent, equal and non-discriminatory way.



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