15 March 2009

Net Neutrality Needed? Or Will NPT-Style Transparency Suffice?

Wikipedia defines Net Neutrality this way:

A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams ... since the early 2000s advocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, protocols); particularly those of competitors.
Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model more for the purpose of profiting from their control of the pipeline rather than for any demand for their content or services.
Opponents of net neutrality include large hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries. Critics characterised net neutrality regulation as "a solution in search of a problem", arguing that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance. Critics also argue that data discrimination of some kinds, particularly to guarantee quality of service, is not problematic, but highly desirable.
The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT) have proposed new network neutrality guidelines based on three simple principles:
  • internet users are entitled to an internet connection with a predefined capacity and quality; 
  • internet users are entitled to an internet connection that enables them to send and receive content of their choice, use services and run applications of their choice, connect hardware and use software of their choice that do not harm the network; 
  • internet users are entitled to an internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address.
Carriers need to recoup their costs and provide quality of service and subscribers need what NPT says they need (see above). Therefore NPT style transparency seems like a good idea to me. Subscribers get protected and carriers can get on with providing value to their customers.

If you have a beef with the NPT proposal or see flaws in my summary then please leave a comment.

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