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My summary views on Net neutrality

also see this site:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_neutrality

Is information content on the Internet in danger of being censored by the broadband providers?

According to the proponents of Net neutrality, the internet is in danger of becoming a tiered service, with the wealthiest of people enjoying access to the most content on the web. This issue is especially acute for the wireless mobile market in that with AT&T's meger with T Mobile, they along with Verizon will control 80% of wireless broadband market.

First let's define the principle of net neutrality. Network Neutrality is the principle that all content on the internet, so long as its lawfull should be displayed on the internet, and be able to be accessed on the internet through search engines, and that ISP's should not be able to block sites if they dont pay to be listed in their network of sponsors. Proponets of network neutrality argue that certain ISP's and mobile phone carriers block competitors sites, and thereby creating 'artificial scarcity' and denying true market competition. According to the proponets of this theory, the 'Tiered service model' stifles true competition.

The opponets of net neutrality, namely the telecoms and major broadband providers, along with the majority of republican lawmakers, and the libertarian pro corporate/market think tank the Cato institute argue that net neutrality will stifle innovation. They argue that the bandwidth these ISP's supply is considered private property and that these companies should have the power to block content, based on bandwidth allotement, or contractual agreement with the ISP, by the website, who pays a toll to be allowed to be accessed. These ISP's argue that these fees are neccessary to continue to provide innovation in internet architecture, and pay the costs of their broadband networks.

The fact is though this is not the free market in action. Rather this will lead to a monopoly of content on the internet, by the major sites on the net, who can afford to pay these ISP's fees so that their site is not blocked by the ISP or takes forever to load, since the ISP may attach a low priority to bandwidth access to those sites who donot pay tolls to the ISP's when they are accessed.

Current regulations regarding the internet place a distinction between PC internet connections, and mobile phone internet connections. Already regulations on the book already allow for content not in the subscriber network to be censored, unlike land line connections. The problem is the market is already a monopoly. There are only 3 major isp providers for landline internet connections, and about 4 major mobile phone companies, out of which only AT&T and Verizon are the major players, with internet service for the iPad and the iphone. Whatever you do, dont trade your computer for a ipad, you will see less of the internet, than you would see with your PC.

Furthermore, regarding mobile broadband access, AT&T is being sued over overcharging customers in average 7 - 10 percent in their new tiered smart phone data usage plans, and in some cases as much as 300%. The class action suit which was dismissed by the conservative majority on the US Supreme Court, had argued that iPhone and iPad customers were being overcharged for data that they did not transmit or download. The Court's ruling indicated that AT&T can force arbitration on individual claims for overcharges by the wireless broadband provider. For more on that see this link:

http://www.zdnet.com/blog/gadgetreviews/lawsuit-claiming-at-t-is-overcharging-iphone-and-ipad-data-usage-may-not-go-to-trial/24927

For analysis of the supreme court decision see this link:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/04/scotus-rules-att-can-force-arbitration-block-class-action-suits.ars

Policy Regulations issued by the FCC regarding internet freedom and Net Neutrality

1.) Internet Policy Statement of 2005 (Bush Policy)

2.)American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Obama Policy)

cable companies support the first policy regulation and are quite ambigous about Obama's proposal to invest 7 billion in broadband network infrastructure, and that lawfull internet content not be degraded in transmission by the ISP's.

Also in 2008 the FCC auctioned off the 700 MHz block of the wireless spectrum. Google said it would offer a bid of 4.6 billion provided that the FCC require the licensee to follow 4 conditions.

1.) All software, web content be open.

2.)All purchasers of mobile devices should be able to select their own wireless provider

3.)that third party resellers of broadband access be able to pay wholesale for access to the license

4.)that ISP's be able to interconnect to a wireless broadband network.

The FCC adopted two of these proposals, 1.) and 2.)

However, in september of 2009, the chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski proposed to add 2 more rules to the internet policy statement of 2005.

These being that 1.) ISP's "cannot discriminate against any content or applications," and require that these companies clearly disclose their policies to customers. Also Genachowski argued that wireless mobile service be subject to the same net neutrality standards as wireline providers are held too. [19]

In May of 2010 the FCC announced that they would continue to fight for the principle of network neutrality, even after a Federal court overturned their order against Comcast. The FCC commissioner proposed to regulate internet broadband access the same way that telephone networks are regulated under Title 2 of the Communications Act. The FCC defended this proposal by saying that it would prevent, "unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities or services."[21]

Then on december 21, 2010, the FCC established new rules preventing cable companies and telephone companies who provide internet service from blocking access to compeititers websites or blocking access to websites like Netflix. The rules for wireless mobile internet service where more vauge, suggesting that the major mobile providers could block certain sites. The FCC did allow the ISP's to charge more for faster access.

Meanwhile, the Republicans in Congress say they plan to repeal this ruling through passing new legislation banning net neutrality. [22] Verizon which has entered into a major contract with google, has said they will challenge the FCC ruling in court. [23] The Google and Verizon deal advocated for limited network neutrality, saying that ISP's providing landline service to PC's should provide neutral network access, but that wireless broadband ISP providers should not have to provide these neutral networks.[29]

This last statement is suprising since Google's own definition and philosophy of Network Neutrality says that, "Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet..Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet. In our view, the broadband carriers should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content. Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online." -Guide to Net Neutrality for Google users- [3]

Some of the more wellknown supporters of Net Neutrality include Tim Berners-Lee, Vinton Cerf, Robert McChesney, Steve Wozniak, and President Obama. The Website: savetheinternet.com warns that if network neutrality is not implemented this tiered service model would act as a censor on freedom of expression on the internet. They define Network neutrality as meaning no discrimination on sites or content, or blocking or slowing down web content, "based on its source, ownership or destination." This website argues that on the current Internet any website has the potential to have the reach as a TV or radio station has. [41]

SavetheInternet.com argues that the new market trend is for ISP's both wireless and landline to become, "Internet Gatekeepers" deciding arbitralily which sites load up fast, or slow or wont load at all. McChesney argues that net neutrality ensures that the internet "remain a free and open technology, fostering democratic communication." He argues that if access to the internet becomes monopolized, the diversity of news sources would wither and that web content innovation would be stifled. [4]

Those who argue for Net Neutrality include consumer advocacy groups, and some online and tech companies. These include Yahoo, Vonage, Ebay, Amazon and Microsoft to name a few.

For information on the philosophy of Network neutrality see Columbia Law Professor, Tim Wu's paper, "Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination."[27] He argues that allowing cable companies to act as gatekeepers by exacting a toll on consumers, and web content developers, to ensure quality delivery, would create an "unfair business model." Essentially he argues that with these cable companies charging every website if it wants to be accessed by their broadband market, would stifle compeitition, and those who cannot afford to pay will have their sites blocked by these ISP's [4]

The tiered service model, or "preferential treatment of Internet traffic," would put newer online companies at a disadvantage, and thus slow or discourage innovation in online content and applications. McChesney argues that without net neutrality the internet would develop into what the Cable television market has evolved into, and that Major companies and other online content providers would have to pay tarriffs to these ISP providers, in order for consumers to be able to view their content. He argues that Without net neutrality the internet will not have a free market for expression and content development.

Now the opponets of network neutrality do have a plausible concern regarding bandwidth availability, in that there has been a proliferation of websites offering streaming video and Mp3's like Youtube and other sites. However, this concern is used as a red herring by the broadband providers, to argue for a toll on all web based content accessed on the web by the developers and the consumers. Network neutrality proponets argue that their be no restrictions on "protocal based provisioning" but do not argue against tiered pricing for band width access for consumers. So the arguement that the network neutralists are a bunch of commies is bull shit, they just argue that the internet remain a open diverse market where all views, and content that is lawfull be allowed to be accessed equally by the consumer and not be blocked by the ISP's which would create artificial scarcity, and monopoly control over information and applications, thereby creating online censorship, and stifling innovation on the web.

of related interest:

The Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009

Net Neutrality in the News

 
 
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