Here is a brief introduction to the enclosed report that is going to be presented in the upcoming pages. We are talking of neutrality and to want to bring up the issues how recent companies are trying to bring inequality in the use of different sites. Internet has always helped us to browse websites on equal basis. But the changes in neutrality would take away our freedom to do so. And thus this document would take you to the journey of how internet works and to the reasons for which neutrality should be saved. And it is even way to show why we really care about net neutrality.
The Internet plays a very important role helping the economic progress and prosperity of our society. How the internet must be worked on to run with time is still a debating topic as net neutrality is threatened. Businesses are operating online as well as civil society no matter if the Internet is neutral or has some of the serious implications for the ISP’s which is nothing but Internet Service Providers.
With the collection of varying interests and stakeholders at play, the net neutrality debate is most commonly characterized in the terms of geographical positions based on polars. This discussion is never ending and also termed as an ongoing topic which do not have an end point. This paper is a review of the literature on the net neutrality which helps the readers to understand the debate about the same. It is about a choice to make whether to let the companies work to damage net neutrality and start business with websites or let the freedom of access flourish thus further giving birth to innovation, prevent unfair pricing and protecting freedom of speech. This is to show whether it is a real threat or not. Is avoiding net neutrality really the solution or is just another way of looting people? What are the ways we can be affected if the new change is made in the internet world? Further are the given reasons by the so wanting companies to stop net neutrality really worthy of following? Take your decisions wisely.
The Internet has always been considered an “open and free” medium to get access to any Web site on an equal basis. Whether big corporate home pages, foreign and domestic sites and the blogs which has less traffic; all these will be displayed on the user’s screen when the corresponding address are typed in the same browser (NY Times 2010). ARPANET – Advanced Research Projects Agency Network was begun in late 1960’s in both research facilities and in military, slowly evolved into what is now known as the Internet in the 1990’s. Since then it has become the backbone of the America as well as of the world culture and economics. We get to see unlimited contents online. Any person with an idea and access to the Internet can share that idea with the world more quickly than in any other time in human history. (Hunter, 2010). Internet works in a fraction of second to help us share our ideas and to communicate with each other.
Unfortunately, the war has always been human beings’ favorite game, especially for the ones thirsty for the power. And these days the war is about the internet. Should the internet remain open technology and free with high economic growth, fostering innovation, and the democratic communication. It becomes the property of phone and cable companies instead who can put the toll booths at exit and at every on-ramp on the information super highway? On one side we have the broadband companies arguing that they need financial incentives inorder to build the huge networks and to lay the cables that will be useful and necessary to handle the huge amounts of the digital traffic. They forcefully refuse any government unintentional failures or the regulations calming that the internet growth will be smothering by government interference. Government and the Universities created the original architecture of the Internet. The vast usage of internet has greatly fulfilled the needs of individuals of many big companies such as the Intel, Cisco Systems, Microsoft, Apple and the Google, much more so than by service providers such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T. Yet the service providers of the Internet are in great demand to become its gatekeepers. (USA Today, 2011)
The division (with some exceptions) goes down the party lines. Democrats, who are in the support of net-neutrality protocol, demand regulation is needed to stop the network operators discriminating in the favor of their own services.
It is an international issue and in some countries it is addressed better than others. (In France, for example, it does understand that the layers are separated, and a person in the Paris attributes getting 24Mb/s net, with a combination of digital TV acquired for 30 euros per month along with a phone with free international dialing results in competition). In the developed countries like US, there are ongoing wide discussions and threats to this concept on what has to be done. Around twenty seven years ago, an architecture was designed by the inventors of Internet which seems very general and simple to use. The concept goes like this – any computer in the world can receive and send a packet to any other computer irrespective of its geographical location. The architecture design was very clean and the network did not look for the inside packets. The clean design of independence layers has allowed the Internet to grow rapidly and made it more useful. It allowed the transmission technology supporting the Internet and the hardware to evolve through a thousand fold increase in the speed, yet still run the same applications. It allowed the new Internet applications to be introduced and to evolve them independently.
It must not discriminate against particular disability, language, hardware, culture, software, underlying network, or against any particular types of data.
Anyone in the world can easily build a new application on the Internet these days without any effort and there is not much to worry about. Internet is the only way of communication in whole world which does not see boundaries and people from all over the world share thoughts and ideas with each other. It is a very important that one person can connect to another person through the internet from anywhere in the world. We basically make payment for a Net connection though packets were delivering by cloud. We may make payment for a quality of service like higher or lower quality. But actually no one can make payment access which is exclusive. And unfortunately in the world of a cable TV, it is we who suffer when companies have a fight over their contract.
Net neutrality is defined by Michael Baumann in his article entitled Net Neutrality: The Internet's world war is defined as "a most successful principle that explains those who operate the networks that facilitates an overall benefit to the public good and they will rely on public property should not use their ownership to confer the discriminatory treatment"(1). What this means is that the telecoms, cable companies and broadband providers provide a service that serves the public good (internet) and the service that they provide will entirely depends on the public property. Thus is has become a must and the internet have to be kept a neutral with application, program, every site etc that are receiving an equal amount of access with regards to overall Quality of service (Qos), reliability and speed.
Net Neutrality: The Future of the Internet?
If we consider the history, present technology has developed and so did man’s struggle with it. In the 21st century where globalization is at its peak, the prevalence and availability of technology is on a much greater scale, yet we face the same kind of problems that bothered our past generations. These problems became more and more complex this technology has developed rapidly. And with this developed technology the issues of how this fast growing technology can be implemented in real world, how the issues can be regulated and who has the right to access to use this technology had remained constant issues for human beings to solve. The issue of network neutrality or more commonly called the net neutrality and it is often considered as the priority issue in the present communications and telecom world yet it is ignored. The future of the present internet technology is critical may be because of Net Neutrality. If you never knew about it before does not make it a less important topic because this topic is the main point of today’s modern development of internet and at least you agree internet is what everyone in this world is relied upon and so this topic should never be ignored.
The Internet is one of the most powerful tools of the modern wealth generation, source of entertainment and knowledge. While the vast ratio of the population do not have any idea about the Internet, how the information will appear on their computer screens and procedures and on how actually the Internet works.
Net neutrality is an idea that the ISP’s or the Internet service providers should not differentiate with the information that is sent over the World Wide Web and must give equal importance to all data packets regardless of source, type or content. Without considering the network neutrality, the danger is that the ISP’s or the Internet service providers would be allowed to limit the services or the programs where the end-user can get an access to these. ISP's currently control the “last mile” used to connect to the Internet. The worry is that Internet service providers will leverage the power to discriminate against the companies that create the revenue or those that in direct competition by limiting companies that do not pay them a fee (cybertelecom.org, 2009).
The American Civil Liberties Union believes, that
"Without this net neutrality, any of the network providers can slow down or entirely block the access to most of the sites which they don't like. They can also have the option or the access to check what equipments and the services the users can access or dictate if all the users are allowed to use and visit some of the popular games, popular chat rooms, so that they can assign higher amount of fees for all those popular downloads.” (aclu.org, 2006)
The law must strike a balance between protecting the private rights of Internet service providers to manage their businesses and protecting the public's interest.
The Internet can be viewed as a series of wires connected by central hubs, known as routers. These routers will collect the entire data from the servers or the individuals sort and redistribute the data appropriately without any errors. When the demand for this data is relatively low, then the routers will face no problem in distributing and organizing this data. When the data becomes overwhelming to the router, the issue becomes overwhelming and the router should follow the concept of a queuing system which is same as a line formed at any of the ticket counters in malls, places etc.
Those who support Net Neutrality trust that in a first-in first-out basis the packet is distributed. This actually considers all packets of data equally regardless of content, source, or size to ensure that a network makes its best efforts to submit these packets as fast as they can in the same order they received.. (cybertelecom.org, 2009)
The only worry is that when packets will be dropped or reordered based on the decisions of these internet service providers. The FCC has filed a motion to stop the Comcast from setting its routers to slow down the process of transfer of packets from peer-to-peer programs of its customers.
Some of the opponents of net neutrality will strongly believe that the FIFO method which is called as first-in-first-out method holds against a VoIP or a streaming video which requires high-bandwidth traffic. Cybertelecom.org concludes this opinion by stating as follows “because the TCP/IP is treating all packets traffic in the same as it discriminates.” Some of the companies won’t agree with this, and they argue that this traffic must discriminate against only for some of packets to prevent the virus and spam.
Comcast who are the renowned Internet service providers and some of the other opponents will not agree that they say net neutrality is a solution to the problem that does not exist (cybertelecom.org, 2009). Micheal Powell who is the FCC chairman has stated that “there was no need for the method of preemptive regulations that could imperil still to be discovered the business models on the Internet (CNET News.com, 2005).”
Later that year, the first case is about net neutrality begun to surface. Consumer complaints about Internet service providers no allowing applications like virtual private networks or Wi-Fi devices as well as the case of Madison River. Madison River is a North Carolina telecommunications company that intentionally blocked voice over Internet phone traffic (Wikipedia, 2009). May be Madison River is considered as the first company that fall into the FCC's crosshairs for this net neutrality, but it is not the last. Companies like AOL and AT&T, Comcast, have all been the focus of this FCC investigations.
Although the main legal body which actively pursuing net neutrality is FCC. Congress has passed bills of net neutrality multiple times in both the Senate and the House and the FTC has started to look into the regulation of the Internet. Also, the net neutrality has fallen under the section of an antitrust law. For instance, when most of the renowned content providers like AT&T or Comcast has began to vertically integrate to provide both distribution and content, which lifts up the strong questions related to monopolization (cybertelecom.org, 2009)(Wikipedia, 2009).
Both the FCC and FTC have already drawn fire from some of the large corporations who had invested in huge amount of interests in the internet over their regulation. Verizon states “with both the Federal Trade Commission and the FCC had already engaged in oversight of the Internet practices, more regulation and new legislation, and its usage, with all their unintended consequences, are not needed (cybertelecom.org, 2009).”
Net neutrality has its roots in the tradition of a common carriage. Common carriage companies provide transport for goods or the information such as railroads, airplanes. They cannot differentiate what they carry or where they carry it. This provides the important movement of the goods and information that keeps our country moving without any breakage in the flow. (cybertelecom.org, 2009).
In the 1934, the DC circuit's interpretation communications act, it was found that a subscriber has the right to use his or her telephone in ways that are beneficial without being publicly harmful. After this FCC drafted its consumer rights net neutrality (cybertelecom.org, 2009).
The FCC or the Federal Communications Commission has created a policy which purely helps to promote the nature of the public Internet (FCC.org, 2009).
- All of the consumers have the right to access the Legitimate Internet content of their personal choice.
- All the consumers of the internet has the right to use the internet services and run their own applications of their choice,
- All the consumers have the right to connect to the internet with their own choice of legal devices. But, they should not harm the network.
- These policies include: a unanimous policy statement, a notice of inquiry on the broadband industry practices, public
- Comment on several petitions for rulemaking, conditions associated with significant communications.
- The industry mergers, specific enforcement actions against particular parties, and the rules for a major spectrum auction.
The NPRM had also proposed to codify two new additional principles of the transparency and nondiscrimination through the below mentioned draft rules:
- The Internet access service provider must treat applications, lawful content, and services in a nondiscriminatory manner.
- The Internet access service provider must disclose all the necessary information concerning to the network management and other practices to their respected subscribers about the application and the content.
These are the principles that are provided to be followed for the network management practices but the principles used for a mobile wireless might differ.
Ensuring Net Neutrality as a whole, it is very difficult to design a legislation which will create an interconnection between all service providers. It is a very important one. The US should do it now, and, if it turns out to be the one and only way, be as draconian as to require the financial isolation between IP providers and businesses in remaining layers.
The growth and usage of the Internet is rapidly becoming day by day and it is one of the dominant mediums which binds each other day by day. These days, the neutral communication mediums are also necessary for our society. It is the basis of democracy, by which a community should decide what to do. It is the basis of the science, by which human kind should decide what is true. Think of the effects if the net neutrality is not allowed. We can be discriminated on the basis of the payment we make for internet connections. For example the person who pays more gets better speed and the person paying less gets slow speed to work on. We must protect the internet to be open and free to use for everyone. Without net neutrality can leave to limiting of diversity of content by whose help the provider will take the advantage of enhancing it web contents and services and can systematically exclude competing content and trust me it’s not a good idea. Further the non-profit and noncommercial organizations will be distinguished and it would tough for the ones who would not be able to pay for better services. Now that chatting and the voice calls have become famous ways of communication; telephone companies are trying their best to keep up with their customers as a result we have companies like the Vonage and the Skype for the internet phone! So for the betterment of a society and to stop the inequality to prevail in the internet world too, we must keep the net neutrality working.
Let us protect the neutrality of the net.
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