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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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February 18, 2008 9:26 AM

What is Net Neutrality?

What is Net Neutrality?

To some it means preventing network operators from selectively slowing down some traffic to favor others, especially their own.

To others it means preserving freedom of speech on the Internet, insuring no one is able to control what you say or do when you’re online.

To some network operators it doesn’t mean much at all as their networks have enough capacity to deliver what they promise.

To other network operators it’s an attack on their fundamental right to manage traffic on their private networks.

To me, it means many things.

Firstly it’s a description of what the Internet is at its core: a neutral network of networks that allows data to flow freely between them.

Secondly it’s a bipolar misnomer. Net neutrality in truth means two things: Internet neutrality and network neutrality.

Internet neutrality refers to the portion of a network that provides broadband access.

Network neutrality refers to the overall ability of an operator to manage their network.

Protecting the rights of consumers to get the level of Internet neutrality they expect when they sign up for broadband is vitally important to supporting a free and open marketplace for goods, services, and applications online.

Protecting the rights of ISPs to manage traffic on their network is essential to their ability to deliver a reliable Internet experience and to support the development of in-network applications.

What all of this falls under isn’t the banner of Net Neutrality so much as that of Network Management.

Whether we’re talking about Comcast’s right to delay P2P traffic to AT&T;’s right to censor a webcast to Verizon’s right to deliver applications that run faster inside FiOS than outside, these all boil down to what can and can’t ISPs do when managing their networks.

Just because we’ve boiled all this down doesn’t mean the dynamics at play are any less complex. Though throughout this week I hope to demonstrate that by understanding the dynamics at work we can find relatively simple solutions that can allow us to move forward without having to fall down the rabbit hole of government as regulator forced to make an endless stream of decisions regarding what is and isn’t legitimate network management.


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