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The three extreme forms of Net Neutrality

By 12 August 2010 5 Comments

Net Neutrality advocates have this fantasy that all websites are supposed to run at the same speed and they want to “preserve” the equal-outcome Internet of their fantasies even if it changes the actual Internet into something it never was.  Based on this equal-outcome premise, a differentiated equal opportunity but unequal players Internet is against the “freedom” of “the people” as defined in Free Press guide to public debate and “differentiation” is now replaced with the word “discrimination” with all the accompanying evil connotations.

To twist the debate, Net Neutrality advocates claim that a world without Net Neutrality would mean that ISPs will shakedown content and application companies and individuals by demanding payment or blocking them.  But the only documented example of application blocking is Madison River Communication and they quickly backed down and settled with the FCC and “voluntarily” contributed $15,000 to the United States Treasury.

The big ruse comes with the argument that in order to prevent ISPs from forcing involuntary business agreements on content and application providers, Net Neutrality proponents want to outlaw voluntary business agreements with content and application providers.  Net Neutrality proponents see ISPs as being so evil that even the legal things they do are somehow bad.

The three extreme forms of Net Neutrality

If we get past all the meaningless noise and rhetoric, Net Neutrality boils down to three levels of extremism.

The first level prohibits ISPs from selling prioritized and enhanced services to content and application companies operating on the Internet.  This is stance that the current FCC majority seems to have adopted in their proposed Net Neutrality rules.  These Net Neutrality advocates don’t bother calling for a ban on end-user router priority tiering because consumers are too price sensitive to ever adopt it at any meaningful rate.  What companies like Linden Labs want is to outlaw their competitors like Blizzard from paying for priority because they don’t want to look inferior.

Never mind that Net Neutrality proponent’s opposition to router based priority and differentiation is totally inconsistent with their defense of Content Distribution Network (CDN) based differentiation on the Internet.  Free Press and Google claim that CDNs are different than router prioritization standards like DiffServ even though CDNs provide elevated routing priority just like DiffServ.  But unlike DiffServ, CDN enhanced applications come with very destructive characteristics to other applications.  There is no technical or philosophical merit behind the claim that CDN differentiation is good and ISP router differentiation is evil.

The second and more extreme congressional proposals of Net Neutrality went further to demanded a forced conscription of most private broadband infrastructure (currently being used for investment-generating businesses like subscription television) to generic Internet services with brutal economic consequences.  That proposal isn’t likely going anywhere as the vast majority of congress opposes even the first level of Net Neutrality extremism.

The third and most extreme form of Net Neutrality is essentially the “all bits are created equal” end-to-end cargo cult masquerading as “the architecture of the Internet”.  This is best debunked by Richard Bennett of ITIF who dismantled the misuse of the end-to-end arguments.  This form of Net Neutrality is devoid of all engineering facts and it essentially advocates Network Stupidity and knocks the Internet back to the stone ages.  Instead of promoting true neutrality in the network where the network supports all applications as best and as fair as possible, Net Stupidity ensures anarchy where real-time applications take a back seat in bandwidth fairness and queue fairness to peer-to-peer (P2P) and file transfer applications.