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Friday, December 3, 2010

Network Neutrality is important

A lot of people don't know what Net Neutrality is and a lot more have heard the term but don't understand what it means.

If you have no idea what it is or what it means then you don't know how important it is to you.

"The Internet" is not a single thing. The internet is really an interconnected network of computer networks. It's MANY things. It's MANY things that all talk to each other and generally play nice together. Or, at least, that's what it USED to be.

Net neutrality is the concept that having all of the networks play nice to each other is the way it SHOULD be and that it is the way it should STAY.

If you enjoy being able to get on your computer and go to or or stream a NetFlix movie then you enjoy the benfits of Net Neutrality.

ComCast is trying to change all of this.

ComCast is trying to change a "peering agreement" with another of the networks that makes up the internet. The other network, Level3, is the network that is set to service connectivity to NetFlix. ComCast fears the overwhelming level of material that will, therefore, come FROM the Level3 network back into the ComCast network (at ComCast user request). ComCast is threatening to terminate their peering arrangement with Level3 unless Level3 pays ComCast considerably more money for this traffic.

If Comcast gets their way in this EVERYONE loses.
ComCast subscribers lose because they will no longer be able to reliably access traffic that is on the Level3 network instead of the ComCast network.
Level3's customers lose because they can no longer reliably provide services to customers of ComCast.
ComCast thinks they will have won, but they will have drawn the ire of EVERYONE in the world dropping their already terrible reputation even further.

And that's just the FIRST step.

This will open the door for EVERY network that is a part of the internet to re-evaluate how they want to manage the network traffic that YOU, the consumer, are paying to have access to. Contrary to the belief of the opponents of Net Neutrality the larger sites are NOT getting a "free ride." Every time you request information from Google you're using the connection that YOU pay for and Google is using the connection that THEY pay for on their end. Each bit of data being passed is paid for TWICE as it is now. ComCast wants Level3 to pay more for the traffic going into ComCast.

This might not SEEM like a big deal. But if the underlying structure of "playing nice" goes away we could ALL have internet service provider plans that look the like satirical graphic created and posted here.

I'd be fully in support of this if I actually had a CHOICE on who provided my internet. But very few people do. You have your cable company for fast internet and you have the phone company for slower broadband access. If you want selection I guess you could revert to a dial-up provider if you can find one.

(Note: this post was edited to change the abbreviation of Level3 that I used, L3 back into the proper name as there is a different company named L3)


  1. ACK! Who do we harass to make sure this does NOT happen!?

  2. There is no good source. Internet Service Providers are not regulated by the FCC.
    Your best bet is to send letters to your Representatives and Senators telling them that the government has to prevent this type of practice OR help pave the way for more competition in the marketplace of internet-service-providing so that market forces drive this type of practice out.

  3. An update: