The ongoing debate surrounding all things ‘net-neutrality’ has been raging for quite some time now. Internet Service Providers became the catalyst for the arguments, with their initial attempts to capitalise more effectively on ever-increasing network speeds and bandwidth availability. Many stood up against this call for action, however it has slowly found its way into our everyday interactions with the internet.
Tarif providers for the iPhone/other smart phones have recently announced plans to remove their unlimited data plans and replace them with bandwidth usage charges. A number of ISP’s now also cap data allowances and charge/throttle back speeds once an agreed limit has been met. The argument on the providers side is that users are now too data-hungry, and are stressing conventional networks to breaking point. The riposte from internet users across the globe is an argument of net-neutrality; essentially the notion that the internet should be free from the boundaries incurred throughout many other activities in society. Of course, this comes within reason, but the basic premise is that people should have a free reign on the internet, and that all users have equal opportunities in accessing the web.
Naturally, this is not always the case. The ‘level playing field’ idea never stands true in the real world, as there are already a number of options when it comes to internet access depending on location and budgetary constraints. Yet recent discussions between a number of key players in the industry could soon push such limitations too far.
The idea drawn up between Google and Verizon is that of a two-tiered internet. This would allow ISP’s to place priorities on traffic and how it is routed to end users, thus removing any idea of a neutral and unbiased level of access to the net. Protests have been underway outside the Google offices in California, voicing the opinions of internet users as a whole.
Google have released a post on their blog with more information regarding where they officially stand on the matter – seen here.
So what does all this mean for users of the internet? Well, not much at this time. It could all be thrown out by Congress regardless of what the corporations have to say, yet the power and leverage of both Google and Verizon could prove effective in pushing this newly proposed legislation through. Yet people do need to step back and realise that a consequence of living in a free-market economy is that total net-neutrality is not possible. Access is already tiered by speed depending on your connection type and payment plan. The danger here is that a ‘pay-to-play’ plan is pushed through, and global network traffic is managed, sorted and even restricted depending on who you are and how you are accessing the internet. This could well lead to massive inequallities across the board – a backward step in anyones book.
Netwise Hosting continue to support the idea of net-neutrality, and will always maintain our networks as equally across the board as is possible.