net neutrality no more

11/08/2010

a new ‘net neutrality’. no more choice, no more pirates, no more new sites. let me explain [*pirates can just skip down past the crossbones pic]. the ramifications of this are a bit complex, so forgive my patronising.

the internet in lamest terms can be seen as a motorway. at times it gets very crowded, causing lots of cars to get caught in traffic. think of these cars as the data of the internet.
currently all data queues, regardless of its content. this is fair.

new plans are suggesting a partitioning. this plan in the motorway terms means putting a row of bollards down one lane + forming an empty or ‘fast lane’ which only certain cars can use, allowing them to skip the traffic. verizon [with backing from google] are saying that this would enable them to provide slow loading content quicker by sending it through their ‘fast lane’, + that by taking this traffic out of the other lanes, general traffic will flow faster.

but this is not how it will work.

by allowing service providers to create + control their own ‘fast lanes’, you put internet traffic speeds into the hands of corporations, who will inevitably turn their ‘fast lanes’ into ‘toll booth lanes’, a situation already happening with wireless network providers which is why mobile broadband is so shite.

what does this mean? firstly, companies could introduce a higher speed ‘second internet’ service at a higher price, driving up your internet costs. but such money worries are irrelevant in view of the bigger issue, this is where it gets complex.

let’s consider that yahoo provide your internet. yahoo sites such as ymail will load quickly + run well, but other sites such as hotmail will be slower to load than they are currently, + even prone to stalling or not loading at all.
this is because yahoo will slow general traffic speed, + thus hotmail, to enlarge their own private fast lane. this fast lane will be for traffic from their own sites, such as ymail, encouraging [aka forcing] users to switch, increasing yahoos internet market share + thus their own profits.
the same will happen to data from sites who do + do not pay for this ‘toll booth lane’. so google, who can afford the tolls, will be given priority over sites who can’t.
to make it worse the FFC will be powerless to stop them.

to further demonstrate how priority traffic lanes will be devastating for the internet, let’s consider a new site springs up. let’s call this new site ‘facebook’.
it may have to potential to become one of the biggest + best loved social sites on the web, but starting out it would not be able to afford the ‘toll booth lane’ costs.
from here two things could happen. it could be bought out, flooded with adverts + ruined [like myspace + youtube]; or it could fail, as inevitably users ignore it for quicker + more stable alternatives provided by their service provider, such as friends reunited or windows live.

a devastating third alternative is that it never even gets recognised, as no one bothers with it in the first place. this situation would become commonplace + would devastate the internet as a source of innovation + a place for new ideas to find success. future facebooks would never happen, let alone sites that are truly innovative such as spotify or ebay.


not that i condone or promote it, but let’s look at what these new plans potentially mean for the immense society of pirates online.

internet providers controlling traffic speeds. this is only possible if they are able to monitor traffic, otherwise how will they know what to allow onto their fast lanes + what not to? how much information they would be able to get from traffic monitoring is a topic in itself, but you can guess that it’s still too much for comfort. + when they know that traffic contains data from sites known for piracy, how quickly do you expect that traffic to be allowed to flow?

this new ‘net neutrality’ is one step toward increased company profits, the killing of new companies + the sinking of piracy in its only remaining open sea.

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