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Is Today the Beginning of the End of Net Neutrality?

Today, May 15, 2014 a vote will be taken at the FCC. Today the Internet we know can change forever. Today at 10:30 am EST the FCC meets to vote on the issue on whether or not allow the collection of special rates to provide certain services through the Internet for those who can afford it. A "faster lane" has been called. Events can be followed live here

Who will pay for the use of this improved infrastructure? According to the carrier companies it will will be pay by the service providers (e.g. NetFlix company that provides video service over the Internet). They do not think that the user is going to pay for the "premium" service. But obviously all higher costs for the service the carrier provides will be assumed by the NetFlix (or any company that hires the "premium service") or will be transferred to the end user.

This complex transaction finally has a single objective: the carrier signal company, the "Telco" as it was formerly known, will get a bigger profit. The "carriers" are already making millions due to monopoly or duopoly situation in which they are found in 80% of U.S. territory. Given that scenario there are only two ways to get the "high speed lanes":

  • The carriers will create a new physical infrastructure to deliver these "fast", "optimized" or "Premium" services. That is a new layer, a new level, will be created in addition to the already known "TIER 1", "TIER 2" and "TIER 3". Where this layer will be inserted? Obviously, due to its characteristic of being a much faster service must be inserted just below the infrastructure of the "Tier 1" or be part of this.
  • They will put "filters" to prevent users -who do not engage the "Internet Premium" service- can exceed certain download speed or exceed the amount of information that can be downloaded from the internet in some specific time slot. All will come to them in a slower way if we do comparison with what users get today. This is just to make "space" for users with "Internet Premium" contracts. These privileged users will get increased download speed.

The problem will affect the whole world because companies like NetFlix, to continue with the previous example, have international operations. The whole world will afford this DIGITAL ABYSS between those who can pay for a premium service and those who does not. International servers, since they are in the U.S., will go through the filter of the companies belonging to the "Tier 1" and therefore, although if you are located in a country with no specific filters, all that comes from the U.S. will be "accelerated" or will be passive of this artificial "slowness", oblivious to TCP / IP, which is placed with the sole aim of obtaining more profit.

The strange thing is that they are using resources that are intended for general public service: IP numbers, DNS servers and the domains themselves. The situation would have been different if a big company, such as NetFlix, decides to bring their video service at a rapid pace through the Intranet of a carrier… but here the intention is to use public IP numbers to create a PRIVATE SERVICE which only will be accessed by those who can afford it.

Does the today's Digital Divide will become tomorrow's DIGITAL ABYSS? In a few hours we will see. Due to the hour here in Lima Peru — 5:30 in the morning — we will repeat that old saying: good night and good luck Internet!

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Comments

International servers, since they are in the By Frank Bulk  –  May 15, 2014 7:33 pm PDT

International servers, since they are in the U.S., will go through the filter of the companies belonging to the "Tier 1" and therefore, although if you are located in a country with no specific filters, all that comes from the U.S. will be "accelerated" or will be passive of this artificial "slowness", oblivious to TCP / IP, which is placed with the sole aim of obtaining more profit.

While the U.S. does have a significant infrastructure for serving content world-wide, all the largest content providers host their content worldwide using using their own or a third-party CDN.  You're conflating service delivery from American data centers with service delivery to American eyeballs.  If US "Tier 1" carriers really did filter content then those who host their content in the U.S. would find other providers that didn't filter the content, or host it outside the U.S.

The carriers will create a new physical By Frank Bulk  –  May 15, 2014 7:35 pm PDT

The carriers will create a new physical infrastructure to deliver these "fast", "optimized" or "Premium" services. That is a new layer, a new level, will be created in addition to the already known "TIER 1", "TIER 2" and "TIER 3". Where this layer will be inserted? Obviously, due to its characteristic of being a much faster service must be inserted just below the infrastructure of the "Tier 1" or be part of this.

Can you explain what you mean by this?  Are you talking about new physical national, regional, or access loop infrastructure?

They will put "filters" to prevent users By Frank Bulk  –  May 15, 2014 7:40 pm PDT

They will put "filters" to prevent users -who do not engage the "Internet Premium" service- can exceed certain download speed or exceed the amount of information that can be downloaded from the internet in some specific time slot. All will come to them in a slower way if we do comparison with what users get today. This is just to make "space" for users with "Internet Premium" contracts. These privileged users will get increased download speed.

Based on how your blog entry was developing I anticipated that you were going to argue that certain types of content would be filtered or slowed, but based on what I'm reading here, you anticipate non-Premium customers will have a slower broadband connection and/or bandwidth caps.  If that's the case, then the future you paint is already here — since the days of dial-up we've had tiered access (hours per month or speed), and most U.S. wireless carriers have had bandwidth caps for a long time.  "Premium" customers have a faster link or higher or no caps at all.

All rotten from the first day TIER1 carriers replaced the old NSFBackbone with "peer" agreements By Javier Rodriguez  –  May 16, 2014 3:23 pm PDT

Yes, the system is rotten from long time ago! Telcos/Carriers have taken advantage of the past real reasons (copper was not able to transmit more than 32k, 64k, 128k...) to get a permanent advantage (today copper can transmit up to 45Mb...) But customers have been "trained", "conditioned" to pay for:

* Speed (bandwidth, bandwidth cap, megabits cap)
* Amount of content (megabytes cap)
* Kind of Content (pay for this and for that, not available in your region/country).

The last issue has developed a practical and very real "balkanization" of the net: the internet that I have in Brasil IS NOT THE SAME internet I got in FRANCE or in the US.  All decided by the private companies that need to GEOLOCALIZE me just to sell more "focused" products and services.  Their right? I doubt it.

Worse case? I need some GPS service on my cell… as soon as I activate it I have been double checked to the fine detail: my cell shows exactly the street and block were I am located.  So we are, all, going south… point of no return at sight? Seems like that.  No GPS activation? They know A LOT based on the cell towers that give me service, a simple triangulation software done by a primary school kid can find my whereabouts easily.  Hard times for those who like to have some privacy.

Javier: I'm sorry, I don't really follow By Frank Bulk  –  May 16, 2014 7:32 pm PDT

Javier: I'm sorry, I don't really follow your argument.  As the technology progressed service providers upgraded their access services to increase speed to dial-up users, and they did the same with the various iterations of DSL.  With VDSL2 we can now enjoy speeds north of 50 Mbps, and with VDSL2 bonding, even just two pairs, they can attain more than 100 Mbps.  So I'm not sure where the 45 Mbps number comes from.
Customers have been "trained" to pay for these things because that's what the technology allowed and the marketing departments of the service providers promoted.  If you tracked how quickly speeds have gone up in terms of cost/Mbps it would be pretty dramatic.  I believe, overall, Internet subscribers have done reasonably well while service providers simultaneously invested in their networks (over and over again).

Your comments starts with vilifying service providers, and using your concern about the balkanization of the Internet as a bridge, zeroes in on content owners.  I don't see how the customization of content based on the location of the user is an issue.  Most users want a custom Internet experience tailored for them, and geo-location is one method of delivering that to them.

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