Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Network neutrality

Longtime reader WIll Cox sent me this link to an excellent essay by Martin Geddes on why network neutrality, wrt to the Internet, should be abandoned. I was expecting a silly rant, but what I got was a realistic view from someone who knows his telco regulation history (it's not pretty), law (Sherman Act), corporate greed (boundless) and how networks actually work. You should read the whole thing, but I've included key excerpts below:
There’s a frequent complaint that “the Net needs us”, and is under attack. But it’s never been healthier. We’ve never had so many people so well connected. It’s an emergent outcome of individual actors expressing their preferences via voluntary exchange. And they, by and large, demand an open connection! It’s not sacred, an object of worship. We can think of better Internetwork architectures.

A practical error

Network neutrality can’t be made to stick. Telcos will evade whatever definition you put up; it’s easier than fighting UNE-P unbundling rules. It’s easy to create atilted playing field.

Summary

An open, free net is an emergent outcome, not an a-priori input to be legislated into existence. We need to capture and accellerate the experiments in how networks are built, financed and sold; and protect those experiments from incumbent wrath until the results are in.

But most critically, don’t fossilize the network in 2006 by adopting network neutrality.

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