Sunday, June 22, 2008

Net Neutrality

This is a topic I've been meaning to post on for a long time. I've been away for most of the weekend in my little spare time this evening I thought I'd hit on it. 

The topic is Net Neutrality. The topic is a difficult one to summarize, but I'll attempt to. Essentially, the way the Internet exists now, the pipes that allow ISP's to connect and broadcast on the Internet are content blind. That is to say no matter who owns the website and no matter how much bandwith their content might use. So whether you host your own website of cat videos or you're CNN you get the same access to bandwith as everyone else. 

Unless the telecom companies get their way. They have been fighting to make the web less neutral. The argument goes like this. In every other form of media, you pay for how much of it you use. If I make a telephone call to my friend around the block I use less network resources than if I call my friend in Kenya, therefore, the call to the friend around the block will cost less. The Internet should be no different. If I am posting high bandwith items like video, then I should pay more for that bandwith than if I am posting a text-only blog. So essentially the telecoms want to charge a premium for bandwith, pricing it out of range for many independent content providers and creating a corporate hierarchy on the web, like the one that exists on television. 

As a blogger, and someone that believes in the promise of the internet to connect people through freedom of expression I stand heavily in favor of net neutrality. I understand the telecom companies point, and if they can prove financial hardship in spite of their profits, than I would even be willing to consider public subsidy of telecom infrastructure to ensure a long-lasting, truly free internet. Otherwise we will stifle creativity, competition and the big ideas that are likely to come. 

Surfing youtube, I found Senator Obama's position on net neutrality (he's for it). Senator McCain also seems to be for it, though my evidence for that is based in a rather long winded explanation from Carly Fiorina. 

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