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Net Neutrality


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This seems to be a big topic here in the states, as I didn't hear much about it in Canada. From what I can tell so far (haven't done too much reading on it just yet, only a few articles here and there, and some stuff on national public radio), the argument seems to be on how neutral the net should be. With many big mergers between telcos and content providers, these megacorporations who own the pipes could one day "favour" certain content (provided by them or their partners) over others by offering/restricting bandwidth.

There is proposed legislation to regulate the the internet (a few different bills) so that there is a "neutral net." This means that an isp cannot provide preferential treatment for any type of content, like it supposedly is today. That's not to say this doesn't happen today, as apparently there are partnerships between certain ISPs and content providers. Those against net neutrality argue that it will decrease competition and innovation, and the consumer will lose out in the end.

Proponents of net neutrality include ebay, amazon.com, google, and microsoft. Those against it include pretty much every large telco and cable company.

Anyone here with some more knowledge on the topic have any input? I find the topic pretty interesting, but am sure i'm not aware of all possible arguments for/against net neutrality. A couple articles I found with a quick google are below.


[- FuNKtiOn -]

TRIBE Member
I think connection providers should not be able to choose which technologies have the priority over the bandwidth use.
seeing as everyone uses the internet for different reasons, its b.s. for the provider to decide as to what is more acceptable.
if the problem is that most traffic is being used for file sharing, well this is a good time to implement internet fees based strictly on bandwidth usage (regardless of application).
but they dont want to do that because they know there are too many people paying $40+ a month and could be getting by with lite highspeed or other alternatives who are too stupid to argue with getting set up with the default connection speeds.


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This is the most important issue in the world of information.

I can't even begin to express how critical content differentiation and ownership is to the potential of the Internet. I've posted about it in this forum and elsewhere a few times, but no one seems to really care...
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A few issues in Canada regarding blocked access, and such... I would *hope* that the issue is properly addressed here soon...

Micheal Geist wrote a fantastic piece on it last year... I'll see if I can dig it up.

That being said... anyone here interested in getting up a site similar to some of the ones posted above that would promote the issue of net neutrality?
Research, Design, Promotion, etc...?
Getting the word out and getting our elected officials to act accordingly?


TRIBE Member
I would be very interested..... frankly Im not very well informed on it (yet), but I can read and write and.... well, am very interested


TRIBE Member
You may find a lack of interest merely as a result of a lack of awareness. Problem with companies that do throttle certain areas of the internet, or redirect traffic to their sites (Bell and Rogers do this with SMTP servers); is that the companies do it so quietly that only the most technical of users notice that it is happening.

These policies go into effect, and the customer is not informed, or they are given support that merely forces them to comply with the new policies.

The net was and is supposed to be completely open and free to use, traffic should flow to the smallest company as freely as to the largest.
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Senate Panel Rejects Net Neutrality

JUN 29, 2006 08:34:53 AM | View/Add Comments (4) | Permalink

A U.S. Senate committee on Wednesday, with a tie vote, rejected a proposal that would have required broadband providers to give their competitors the same speeds and quality of service as they give to themselves or their partners.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee’s 11-11 vote means the net neutrality amendment will not be added to a wide-ranging broadband bill as it goes to the Senate floor. The amendment, offered by Sens. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, and Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, would have prevented broadband providers such as AT&T and Comcast from charging extra based on the type of content transmitted by Internet-based companies.

Late Wednesday, Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said he’ll place a hold on the broadband bill because it lacks strong net neutrality requirements. By placing a hold on the bill, Wyden is saying he may object to the Senate beginning debate on that legislation. A hold on a bill can lead to a filibuster, if Senate leaders aren’t able to fix the senator’s objections.

"If [broadband providers] get their way, not only will you have to pay more for faster speeds, you’ll have to pay more for something you get for free today: unfettered access to every site on the World Wide Web," Wyden said on the Senate floor. "To me, that’s discrimination, pure and simple."

The Snowe amendment would bring new regulation to the Internet, committee Republicans argued. Snowe was the lone Republican voting for the amendment.

E-commerce companies pushing for net neutrality rules are "enormous" companies that want to profit from delivering multimedia content over networks broadband providers have built, said Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican and chairman of the committee.

"These people who argue they ought to be able to drop all this stuff on the Internet maybe ought to build their own network," Stevens said.

The committee’s rejection of the proposal means the fight for net neutrality rules could be stalled for the year. Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved its own version of a broadband bill but voted 269-152 to reject a net neutrality amendment.

Net neutrality backers said they will continue to push for a law as the bill heads to the full Senate. Among net neutrality supporters are several consumer groups as well as Google, Amazon.com and Microsoft.

Snowe predicted that without a net neutrality law, large broadband carriers will block or degrade Web content from competitors, creating a slow lane for everyone but themselves and their business partners. Officials with AT&T and BellSouth have advocated a business plan that would allow them to charge extra fees for preferential delivery of some companies’ Web content. The broadband providers need new business plans to pay for the rollout of next-generation broadband networks, they argue.

Snowe rejected that argument, saying the broadband giants will bury small innovative companies that can’t afford to pay extra fees.

"Consumers are going to have all the choice of a Soviet Union supermarket," she said. "They will have access to that supermarket, but the choices will be dismal."

Consumer groups criticized the committee’s rejection of the Snowe amendment, but the tie vote shows the issue is gaining momentum, said Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, a group advocating for media diversity.

"The Senate Commerce Committee handed control of Internet content to the telephone and cable companies," Gigi Sohn, president of consumer rights group Public Knowledge, said in an e-mail message. "The committee gave the telephone and cable companies something they have not had in the history of the Internet—a way to control what goes over the Net."

Verizon Communications praised the committee for approving the underlying bill, which streamlines the local franchising requirements telecom providers must get before offering television services over Internet Protocol in competition with cable TV.

The committee also approved an amendment, offered by Sen. George Allen, a Virginia Republican, that would permanently extend a tax moratorium on Internet-only taxes such as access taxes. The Internet tax moratorium, which Congress has extended multiple times since 1998, expires in late 2007. A permanent extension is likely to face opposition in the full Senate from a group of lawmakers that says it ties the hands of local governments.

-Grant Gross, IDG News Service (Washington Bureau)

Bernnie Federko

TRIBE Member
Internet speed control faces scrutiny at CRTC hearings
How internet providers manipulate and manage the speed of the internet for different types of data will be examined by Canada's telecommunications regulator during six days of hearings in Gatineau, Que., starting Monday.

Whether the online traffic management practices used by internet service providers such as Bell and Rogers violate Canada's Telecommunications Act is a question that the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission is trying to answer.

The commission hearings scheduled for the first week of July will look at how some internet service providers are dealing with alleged congestion on the internet, and how that affects consumers and businesses that favour "net neutrality." Net neutrality is the principle that says ISPs should not interfere with information transmitted over the internet and no users or applications should be treated preferentially over others. Advocates say the principle is needed to ensure customer choice and foster innovation.

The CRTC has the power to impose conditions on the way wholesale and retail internet is offered in Canada.

Some of the internet traffic control practices being put under the microscope are:

* Throttling — that is, purposely slowing down the internet speeds of certain online applications such as peer-to-peer file transfers (P2P) relative to others.
* Deep packet inspection, a technology used to examine traffic to figure out what type of data it is so it can be monitored and directed.
* Imposing download limits and excess bandwidth usage charges on heavy users.

ISPs that engage in traffic management practices say they are necessary to manage network congestion caused by certain bandwidth-hungry applications like P2P transfers of large files such as movies.

As part of the probe, the commission is also looking into:

* The level and growth of congestion on networks.
* Other potential methods for dealing with it, such as upgrading network capacity.

Throttling ruling in November

The hearings are part of an investigation launched by the CRTC following a complaint from smaller ISPs that their customers were being throttled by Bell — that is, their customers' internet speeds were being selectively slowed down when they used certain online applications at certain times. The smaller ISPs buy network access wholesale from Bell, which is required to sell it to them because its networks were built decades ago at taxpayer expense, when phone companies were government-owned monopolies.

In November, the CRTC ruled that Bell's throttling of its competitors' customers was not discriminatory as it also throttles its own customers in the same way. The decision was specific to Bell's wholesale customers and did not deal with throttling in general, the commission said.

The same day as that decision was announced, the CRTC said it would open a new probe into the larger issue of internet traffic management, which is also done by other large internet service providers such as Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Inc. The probe was to include an online public consultation and end with the July public hearings.

Meanwhile, a group of smaller ISPs and public advocacy organizations is challenging the November 2008 Bell ruling. The appeal alleges the ruling could unfairly influence the CRTC's probe into internet traffic management practices.
Who's who at the hearings

A number of different groups are scheduled to speak at the hearings. Based on their written submissions, here is what they are expected to say:

1. ISPs that use internet traffic management for P2P file transfers

* Specifically: Bell Aliant, Cogeco, Rogers, Shaw, Barrett Xplor.
* What they are expected to say: Practices such as throttling are necessary to ensure fairness among internet users and prevent a few bandwidth hogs from slowing down the internet for everyone. Barrett Xplor use traffic management for satellite services, arguing that satellites are expensive and hard to upgrade.

2. ISPs that use other methods to deal with congestion

* Specifically: Telus, MTS Allstream, Primus, Quebecor on behalf of Videotron
* What they are expected to say: Methods such as usage-based pricing and network upgrades work well to deal with congestion, but each ISP should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding how they deal with congestion. Primus argues in its written submission that internet wholesalers such as Bell should not be allowed to impose their traffic management practices on the customers of other ISPs that buy wholesale network access from them.

3. Small ISPs, including those that may be throttled by their wholesalers

* Specifically: Coalition of Internet Service Providers Inc., Canadian Association of Internet Providers, Execulink, Cybersurf.
* What they are expected to say: Many of these companies buy internet access wholesale from companies such as Bell, create packages and resell it to their own retail customers. They argue that allowing wholesalers to apply traffic management to customers of other ISPs is anti-competitive.

4. The entertainment industry

* Specifically: Independent Film and Television Alliance, Canadian Film and Television Production Association, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists.
* What they are expected to say: The internet is an important platform for distributing music, film and TV. ISPs should not act as gatekeepers for those.

5. Other businesses and organizations that rely on the internet to deliver services

* Specifically: Zip.ca, Jason Roks, Vaxination informatique, Norm Friesen, Canada research chair in e-learning practices at Thompson Rivers University, Open Internet Coalition
* What they are expected to say: Traffic management practices that discriminate against certain types of data could reduce investment in broadband networks and consumer choice, inhibit innovation and freedom of expression and be abused to engage in anti-competitive practices.

6. Consumer and public interest advocacy groups

* Specifically: Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Union des consommateurs, National Union of Public and General Employees, Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic on behalf of Campaign for Democratic Media, Council of Canadians with Disabilities and ARCH Disability Law Centre
* What they are expected to say: Their position is similar to that of businesses and organizations that rely on the internet, but they are also concerned that technologies such as deep packet inspection could invade consumers' privacy.


Hi i'm God

TRIBE Member
I follow Micheal Geist on twitter that's about all I do to stay informed.

This is a huge issue though, the only people who can really save us is 4chan.
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