Tim Berners-Lee has a blog post entitled Net Neutrality: This is serious where he writes

When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going end in the USA.

I blogged on net neutrality before, and so did a lot of other people. (see e.g. Danny Weitzner, SaveTheInternet.com, etc.) Since then, some telecommunications companies spent a lot of money on public relations and TV ads, and the US House seems to have wavered from the path of preserving net neutrality. There has been some misinformation spread about. So here are some clarifications. ( real video Mpegs to come)

Net neutrality is this:

If I pay to connect to the Net with a certain quality of service, and you pay to connect with that or greater quality of service, then we can communicate at that level.
That's all. Its up to the ISPs to make sure they interoperate so that that happens.

Net Neutrality is NOT asking for the internet for free.

Net Neutrality is NOT saying that one shouldn't pay more money for high quality of service. We always have, and we always will.

I've been depressed by the what has been happening in Washington with regards to Net Neutrality but have hesitated to blog about it since I am clearly biased, I work for a company that is likely to financially benefit if Net Neutrality is the status quo. However that doesn't change the fact that what the telcos are striving would eventually turn the Web into a very different place from what it has been. Read all of Tim Berners-Lee's post and after that  you should read what Lawrence Lessig had to say about this topic in his article for the Washington Post; No Tolls on the Internet.


Thursday, June 22, 2006 8:57:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Can someone articulate in plain english from an average net user's perspective what a realistic situation is that could arise from the absence of net neutrality? Would there really be much of a difference from where we are today (besides the addition of a "fast lane")?
Friday, June 23, 2006 12:17:47 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Probably the biggest difference would be that it would be much more difficult for small companies or individuals to produce services to compete with large ones. The telcos would make deals whereby a Google or a Microsoft would have to pay them in order for users to get decent access. This would, in turn, mean that companies like a Google or a Microsoft would have to earn more to keep those services running. (In other words, more fees and/or more ads.) It also means that companies like these are less likely to throw up new "beta" services. Basically what the telcos want to be able to do is say "Hey Google, if you don't pay us $X, MSN search will return results twice as fast as yours". They'll say much the same to Microsoft. The result is a monetary flow from those two companies to the telcos with no benefit whatsoever to the user.

Worse, it would mean that it would be much, much harder for a small new company to break in as they'd not be able to afford the extra fees to let customers reach them. This means that chance of a new google or flickr or youtube showing up drops dramatically. Google started as a very small company and succeeded because it only had to worry about returning results as fast as yahoo and altavista on the same wire, and it succeeded in part because it did so. If yahoo and altavista had been paying the telcos to have their results return twice as fast as anyone else's, google would likely not have succeeded.

So the upshot is that a net without net neutrality is a net with less competition and less innovation.

It's a bad deal for pretty much everyone but a telco investor.
Friday, June 23, 2006 6:24:39 AM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Read my open letter to my congressional representive. I'm disgusted, and I'm just your average developer type.

Friday, June 23, 2006 5:26:49 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Unfortunately there are two completely different meanings for net neutrality. One is TBL's which is 'you paid for access speed X and should have that access speed to all content, but you can pay for access speed 2X and get that speed as well.' That isn't however what most people mean by net neutrality, the Washington Post article you linked to is an example. That article argues that all content everywhere has to be treated equally. That is a very different meaning, the laws those groups are pushing would essentially make it illegal for telcos to provide different speed service. I believe that is a remarkably bad idea as it kills Internet innovation and destroys any desire on the part of the Internet infrastructure players to improve the infrastructure. I am fine with TBL's definition of Net Neutrality but we need to understand that what he's talking about and what everyone else is talking about are unrelated.
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