Net neutrality

by Samm Bennett
Upon finding out that AT&T was encouraging employees to complain about net neutrality, I felt compelled to leave my own comment on the FCC's net neutrality site. I was shocked to find more than half the comments (of the sample I read) going against net neutrality, and all of them written by people who clearly did not understand the issue. This riled me up a bit, and so I wrote my own entry and actually commented on some opponents' entries. I am very thankful for Comcast providing me ammo when doing the latter. Anyway, the following is the comment I posted to their site. I assume anyone reading this knows the internet is not a big truck, so feel free to comment.

It seems rather unfortunate, but a cursory glance at many comments would suggest many people against net neutrality don't actually understand it, nor how a network actually works. Without the FCC's intervention regarding Comcast's throttling of bittorrent traffic, many customers (likely forced to use Comcast since the local monopoly cable companies are allotted) would be not be able to use that particular technology. And while we can acknowledge that bittorrent is commonly used for pirating, it also has many legal uses, many which have not been fully evaluated. Net neutrality is important in maintaining no protocol or packet is blocked because the network owner disagrees with the content or the source.

However, I am uncertain if regulation would even be necessary if there were open access to network facilities (although I question if they must go hand in hand). As stated in this report, http://www.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE59E16J20091015, open access forced lower prices for higher speeds, areas the US could certainly use a boost (the fact that this nation is so far down the food chain despite inventing the internet and controlling ICANN is a disgrace, but I digress). Open access would also foster competition, thus making irrelevant anyone choosing to throttle traffic.

Regarding those speaking out against a certain "search engine" (please, we know you're attacking Google), you should note that Google Voice is not a telephony service. Google Voice acts as a forwarding (free, when used within the US) service between two pre-existing numbers. Users who have a number with Google Voice only attach that number to pre-existing phone numbers, and are serviced under those respective providers.

The one area I question net neutrality is with regards to wireless networks, due to the nature of wireless networks requiring broadcast communication, etc. Even in this regard though, I am willing to side with net neutrality, as any network provider whose network suffers (AT&T and the iPhone, perhaps?) should be forced to improve their network (innovating when necessary) rather than prohibiting their customers from legitimate uses.