Tuesday 6 January 2009

Open letter to The Pink'un: you were snowed

Dear FT editors,

Your January 4th editorial, Surfers should pay congestion charges, made painful reading.

The Network Neutrality debate isn't centred on the ability to buy preferential access to to the Internet. This is a canard floated by parties with an agenda to muddy the waters and obscure the real debate.

The real issue is to prevent vertically-integrated media companies from exercising unfair competition.

Imagine an ISP who's parent company also owned a competitor to Skype, the popular Internet phone service. Network neutrality regulations would seek to prevent that ISP from selectively reducing the quality of service between Skype users.

It has little or nothing to do with CDNs, "selling access to special fast lanes" or "preventing the market from rationing a scarce resource."

Yours sincerely,
Richi Jennings.


Mark said...

This is all a matter of perspective.

I use Skype because it is remarkably good value for money, but then I don't rely upon it for my business.

Imagine that I want to pay for a more reliable service. My ISP (hypothetically) offers this on clear and open commercial terms. You are suggesting that they should be prohibited from doing so.

Consider this alternative way of describing the same service offering.

An ISP provides two independent services. One is a conventional ISP service, completely neutral as you wish. The other is a closed, private network that offers VoIP to customers who need reliability.

Clearly you don't object to the first service. Do you wish to stop me subscribing to the second?

My ISP observes that the VoIP service is only busy at certain times. Perhaps most of its subscribers operate during office hours. During the quiet times they can divert traffic from the standard ISP service through the VoIP network, which can either be viewed as increasing throughput for the non-premium customers or reducing the equipment needed (and hence cost) for such customers.

The neutral service you want is better, cheaper, or both if the ISP does not enforce network neutrality, which would appear to be a paradox.

In short, I think that the FT editorial you read is entirely correct.

Richi Jennings said...

Mark, no, that's not it at all.

With respect, you've either not read my post or you are simply one of the army of shills currently trying to misdirect the network neutrality conversation.

At the risk of feeding the troll, this isn't about preventing ISPs from providing QoS -- it's about preventing them from misusing QoS by downgrading traffic that competes with their own applications.

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