|added Wed May 17 2006 at 8:26 PM
|A few months ago, articles like this one in the Washington Post started appearing, reporting that various executives at telecommunication companies wanted to start charging websites and various web services for bandwidth being transmitted to their end customers. For example, BellSouth would charge Google and MSN any time that information is transferred from their servers across BellSouth's network. If the source does not pay the fee, then their connection will be downgraded.
One of the complaints by the telephone companies is that they end up footing the bill for competitors such as VoIP (Voice over IP) provider Skype. They also complain that companies that are exploiting high-speed internet connections are doing so without paying them anything. They say that Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others have been getting a free lunch.
There was an immediate and very vocal backlash from the internet community, and many opponents decided that the best way to keep this from happening would be to convince Congress to pass a law guaranteeing what was termed "Net Neutrality," outlawing any discrimination on the part of the ISP concerning what traffic is given priority treatment. Just recently, I've started seeing more vocal examples of people in the internet community opposing such legislation, so it has slowly become a truly hot topic on the internet. Needless to say, I'm not the first to analyze this topic, so if you want more opinions or evidence for one side or the other, feel free to google it or for a more technical description and definition, check out the Wikipedia article on it. That's where I got a lot of information from.
In part 1, I'll describe some of the arguments for net neutrality and explain why many people want to legislate it. In Part 2, I'll describe the arguments against it and explain why legislation may be a bad idea. Throughout these two parts, I'll try to remain non-partisan, but since I don't have anybody editing my remarks I'm sure that I'll slip in some biased remarks. Finally, I'll explain my own opinion of why the telephone companies should not even try this, with or without legislation.
There's more to read. Read the extended entry.