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« Other jottings from XP Day | Main | John Strand on the iPhone »

December 15, 2008


Dave Jones

This is only a problem until you realise that the "really smart people" are the same people who a couple of years ago appeared to care deeply about radio spectrum being a free for all, invoking some magic that they couldn't actually describe so that your particular voice/data/whatever actually got to the other end intact and with reasonable quality of service.

Then you start to realise that they aren't really that smart after all. To be fair, I think what net neutrality people really object to is money changing hands in exchange for quality of service. They think this will lead to the internet being something like TV, with the little guys priced entirely out of the market. This neglects the fact that the little guy is already priced out of the market when it comes to delivering anything other than text, a fact venture capital is hiding from us for... oh... about the next six months.


I think I'm in the same boat. There is a political camp who believe that internet access is equivalent to freedom of speech. They are probably a close overlap with the people who got bent out of shape with Cantor and Seigel (green card lawyers), or those who predicted the death of the internet when NSFnet abandoned the non-commercial-use AUP.

To that body of folks, using diffserv to prefer a commercial partners traffic over any other is anathema.

But is that really any different (except in technology) to having prefered BGP peerings based around commercial contracts? Or paying big bucks for hosting close to a big backbone feed, rather than down in the ISP layer?

What am I =not getting= about net neutrality? Is it just another netheads versus telcoheads political battle, or am I missing something?

Tom, I think I agree. If the internet doesn't work for some reason, we'll just route around it. I still have modems and I can probably find fidonet disks in my big pile o' junk.


I think the two Dave's sum it up quite nicely. It's socialism vs capitalism. A debate about ideology. That's not a bad thing though, it's just a debate that hadn't been resolved. Once it's resolved, the "thinking" people will move on to debating something else. It's cool to be a socialist, which is why a lot of the smart people are pro net neutrality, but the reality of it is that there are few people who are willing to put their livelihoods at risk of a) a collapse due to crap services rendered in the future or b) state-funded subsidy model for the Internet. Neither of these will make you wealthy, but more importantly for those really passionate socialists who don't care much for too much wealth, neither of these approaches will spawn "innovation". And that's where it hurts most for the smart people you refer to. Without innovation potential, an an entire industry of smart people will be frustrated. That's why the democratic, capitalist governments of this world will find it really hard to support net neutrality, especially at a time when a socialist environment agenda is what these capitalistic states will want to wean people towards.

So long as you're trading legally, fairly and competitively, as a business you can do as you please. This leads to QOS and QOS-based pricing. Some might argue that we have that already (e.g. my ISP has a "home" DSL service and a "business" one, the business one is more expensive than the home one). Without money, there can be no investment, no innovation, and therefore service will deteriorate. And if the Internet is considered so important to society (which it is) either the government will subsidise it (no chance) or else the government will positively encourage QOS-based pricing.

So, a bit of noise and hot air one day, move on to something else the next.

(Apols - a very rare political comment from me!)


I'd just like to point out for Kibo et al, that I am actually in the "green card lawyers = scum" and the "internet's gone all to pot since NSF ditched the AUP" camp.

But that's really just cos this is all just usenet with gifs, init.

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