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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dispatch from CES: More on Net Neutrality
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Let me echo Adam's comments in his opening grafs about the circus atmosphere surrounding this debate. I also attended the session. After the session I met up with some folks from Panther Networks, an upstart competitor to Akamai, and in our short bus ride from the Las Vegas Convention Center to the Sands I heard far more insightful discussion about what NN really means than I generally do at these policy debates.

I'd also like to elaborate on Adam's discussion of the small cable operator's question. When he said a small percentage of users are dominating his upstream pipe, Misener's repsonse was that NN advocates believe carriers should be able to price-differentiate based on use. I see merit in that -- wireless operators charge differing amounts for differing bundles of minutes. But the carrier said that for various reasons he didn't think it was viable for him to price-differentiate (perhaps because he's in a competitive market, and his competitors are offering all you can eat, I wonder?). He said he'd prefer to use deep packet inspection, identify P2P traffic, and push that to the bottom of his priority list. Misener didn't say what he thought of that, but from what I've read of NN advocates, they would say that was discrimination.

We hear frequently about the number of people "signing" online petitions in favor of NN. Beyond the fact that it's name sounds so favorable that one would easily be inclined to support it without knowing more facts, I've often wondered if part of the reason you see those online signatures is because these people are online; NN activists seem to be the heaviest users of broadband. If networks started pushing the traffic of heavy users aside to ensure that all of its customers received a certain amount of robustness in their connection, they suffer. They're victims of "discrimination." So NN advocates, in signing online petitions, are acting in their own self-interest, trying to ensure the government enshrines their current ability to game the system for personal bandwidth advantage.

posted by Patrick Ross @ 12:04 PM | Net Neutrality

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