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Geoff Daily

App-Rising.com covers the development and adoption of broadband applications, the deployment of and need for broadband networks, and the demands placed on policy to adapt to the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the Internet.

App-Rising.com is written by Geoff Daily, a DC-based technology journalist, broadband activist, marketing consultant, and Internet entrepreneur.

App-Rising.com is supported in part by AT&T;, however all views and opinions expressed herein are solely my own.

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July 29, 2008 11:54 AM

Net Neutrality Debate Declared Over, But When Did It Ever Begin?!

First off, go check out this great post by Drew Clark at his terrific site BroadbandCensus.com entitled "Democratic Party Debate Over Net Neutrality Over, Advocates Declare."

Now consider this question: when exactly was there this supposed "debate" over net neutrality?

Last I checked the net neutrality "debate" was more of a shouting match, with both sides claiming the ultimate truth on their side and that the opposition was being unreasonable.

Did both sides have legitimate points? Absolutely.

Net neutrality advocates should be worried about unfair competitive practices by the incumbents, and incumbents should be concerned over what will happen to their networks if they can't manage them to drive new revenue to support additional buildout.

But were both sides wrong on others? Undeniably.

Net neutrality advocates have seem more concerned about idealism than the real-world impact of legislation, and incumbents have seemed unwilling to consider the possibility that some form of legislation or regulation is necessary to protect the inherent freedom of the Internet.

The fact that we now have politicians convinced that the whole truth can be found on one side of this debate vs. the other rather than somewhere in the middle has me troubled to no end.

Here's the craziest thing of all: the two sides of this debate generally agree on the two central issues related to net neutrality.

1. Network operators should not be allowed to intentionally slow down some traffic to benefit others with whom they've struck a deal. So Barnes & Noble can't strike a deal with Verizon to make Borders run slower.

2. Network operators should be allowed to manage traffic on their network and possibly enable higher tiers of service so long as that doesn't interfere with the broadband service they're selling to consumers.

So in the end, I would love it if we could end the net neutrality debate and find a way to move forward. In fact, we have to, otherwise we won't get anywhere on the many pressing telecom-related issues that need to be addressed.

But I can't get behind the idea that the truth lies solely on one side or the other as in almost all issues the real truth, the truth that is best for America rather than any particular ideology or interest group, will be found somewhere in between the two extremes, especially in a debate as polarized as the one surrounding net neutrality.

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