17 July 2006

If Not Net Neutrality - What?

That old contrarian curmudgeon, Andrew Orlowski, has found a soul-mate in Richard Bennett: "[t]he veteran engineer played a role in the design of the internet we use today, and helped shaped Wi-Fi" as Orlowski explains before an interview. In addition,

Bennett argues that the measures proposed to 'save' the internet, which in many cases are sincerely held, could hasten its demise. Network congestion is familiar to anyone's whose left a BitTorrent client running at home, and it's the popularity of such new applications that makes better network management an imperative if we expect VoIP to work well. The problem, he says, is that many of the drafts proposed to ensure 'Net Neutrality' would prohibit such network management, and leave VoIP and video struggling.

The conversation that follows is extremely interesting, and certainly hits home. But I have big problems with this part:

They all seem to be worried that ISPs have secret plan to sell top rank - to pick a search engine that loads faster than anyone else's. But it's not clear that a), anyone has done that; b), that it's technically achievable; or c) that it is necessarily abusive; or d) that their customers would stand for it.

These all seems very weak arguments in against net neutrality; I'd rather err on the side of hippy edge-to-edge goodness.

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