Network neutrality

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Network Neutrality
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Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for residential broadband networks and potentially for all networks. A neutral broadband network is one that is free of restrictions on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as one where communication is not unreasonably degraded by other communication streams.[1][2][3]

Though the term did not enter popular use until several years later, since the early 2000s advocates of net neutrality and associated rules have raised concerns about the ability of broadband providers to use their last mile infrastructure to block Internet applications and content (e.g. websites, services, protocols); particularly those of competitors. In the US particularly, but elsewhere as well, the possibility of regulations designed to mandate the neutrality of the Internet has been subject to fierce debate.

Neutrality proponents claim that telecom companies seek to impose a tiered service model more for the purpose of profiting from their control of the pipeline rather than for any demand for their content or services. Others have stated that they believe net neutrality to be primarily important as a preservation of current freedoms.[4] Vinton Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, Tim Berners Lee, father of the web, and many others have spoken out strongly in favour of network neutrality.

Opponents of net neutrality include large hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries. Critics characterised net neutrality regulation as "a solution in search of a problem", arguing that broadband service providers have no plans to block content or degrade network performance.[5] Critics also argue that data discrimination of some kinds, particularly to guarantee quality of service, is not problematic, but highly desirable. Bob Kahn, Internet Protocol's co-inventor, has called "net neutrality" a slogan, and states that he opposes establishing it, warning that "nothing interesting can happen inside the net" if it passes: "If the goal is to encourage people to build new capabilities, then the party that takes the lead in building that new capability, is probably only going to have it on their net to start with and it is probably not going to be on anybody else's net."[6]


[edit] Definitions of network neutrality

At its simplest network neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.[7] Net neutrality advocates have established three principal definitions of network neutrality:

Absolute non-discrimination 
Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu: "Network neutrality is best defined as a network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally."[2] According to Imprint Magazine, University of Michigan Law School professor Susan Crawford "believes that a neutral Internet must forward packets on a first-come, first served basis, without regard for quality-of-service considerations."[8]
Limited discrimination without QoS tiering 
United States lawmakers have introduced bills that would allow quality of service discrimination as long as no special fee is charged for higher-quality service.[9]
Limited discrimination and tiering 
This approach allows higher fees for QoS as long as there is no exclusivity in service contracts. According to Tim Berners-Lee: "If I pay to connect to the Net with a given quality of service, and you pay to connect to the net with the same or higher quality of service, then you and I can communicate across the net, with that quality of service."[1] "[We] each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me."[10]

[edit] Development of the concept

In 2003 Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, published and popularized a proposal for a net neutrality rule, in his paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination. The paper considered network neutrality in terms of neutrality between applications, as well as neutrality between data and QoS-sensitive traffic, and proposed some legislation to potentially deal with these issues.[11] Throughout 2005 and 2006 network neutrality and the future of the Internet was debated by cable companies, consumers and Internet service providers (ISPs), although the issue was almost completely ignored by the media until 2006.[12]

The concept of network neutrality predates the current Internet focused debate, existing since the age of the telegraph.[13] In 1860, a US federal law was passed to subsidize a telegraph line, stating that:

messages received from any individual, company, or corporation, or from any telegraph lines connecting with this line at either of its termini, shall be impartially transmitted in the order of their reception, excepting that the dispatches of the government shall have priority ...

An act to facilitate communication between the Atlantic and Pacific states by electric telegraph, June 16, 1860[14]

In 1888, Almon Brown Strowger invented the automatic telephone exchange to bypass non-neutral telephone operators.[13]

[edit] Proponents

Proponents of net neutrality include consumer advocates, online companies and some technology companies.[15] Many major Internet application companies are advocates of neutrality, including Google, Yahoo!, Vonage,[16] Ebay, Amazon,[17] IAC/InterActiveCorp and EarthLink.[citation needed] Software giant Microsoft, along with many other companies, has also taken a stance in support of neutrality regulation.[18] Cogent Communications, an international Internet service provider, has made an announcement in favor of certain net neutrality policies.[19] According to Google:

Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet. The Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days... Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet. In our view, the broadband carriers should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content. Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online.

Guide to Net Neutrality for Google Users[3]

Individuals who support net neutrality include Tim Berners-Lee,[20] Vinton Cerf,[21] Lawrence Lessig, Robert W. McChesney,[4] Steve Wozniak, Susan Crawford, and David Reed.[22]

A number of net neutrality interest groups have emerged, including which frames net neutrality as follows:

Net Neutrality means no discrimination. Net Neutrality prevents Internet providers from blocking, speeding up or slowing down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

[edit] Arguments for network neutrality

[edit] Control of data

Supporters of network neutrality want a legal mandate ensuring that cable companies allow Internet service providers (ISPs) free access to their cable lines, which is called a common carriage agreement, and the model used for dial-up Internet. Network neutrality advocates want to ensure that cable companies can not screen, interrupt or filter Internet content without court order.[12] accuses cable and telecommunications companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Time Warner of wanting "to be Internet gatekeepers, deciding which Web sites go fast or slow and which won't load at all". According to these companies want to "tax content providers to guarantee speedy delivery of their data ... to discriminate in favor of their own search engines, Internet phone services, and streaming video — while slowing down or blocking their competitors."[23] Vinton Cerf, a co-inventor of the Internet Protocol (IP) and current Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google, has supported efforts to introduce network neutrality legislation in the US, arguing that "the Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services."[24] Cerf concluded that:

Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success.

Vinton Cerf in testimony before Congress February 7, 2006[21]

[edit] Digital rights and freedoms

Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney argue that net neutrality ensures that the Internet remains a free and open technology, fostering, amongst others, democratic communication.[4]

[edit] Competition and innovation

Net neutrality advocates argue that allowing cable companies, or what is termed "content gatekeepers", to demand a toll to guarantee quality or premium delivery would create what Tim Wu calls "the Tony Soprano business model". Advocates warn that by charging "every Web site, from the smallest blogger to Google", network owners would earn huge profits and would be able to block competitor Web sites and services, as well as refuse access to those unable to pay.[4] According to Tim Wu cable companies plan to "carve off bandwidth" for their own television services and to charge companies a toll for "priority" service.[25]

Proponents of net neutrality argue that allowing for preferential treatment of Internet traffic, or tiered service, would put newer online companies at a disadvantage and slow innovation in online services.[15] Tim Wu argues that without network neutrality the Internet would undergo a transformation from a market "where innovation rules to one where deal-making rules."[25] argues that net neutrality creates an "even playing field" and that "the Internet has always been driven by innovation. Web sites and services succeeded or failed on their own merit."[23] According to Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney:

Without net neutrality, the Internet would start to look like cable TV. A handful of massive companies would control access and distribution of content, deciding what you get to see and how much it costs. Major industries such as health care, finance, retailing and gambling would face huge tariffs for fast, secure Internet use ... Most of the great innovators in the history of the Internet started out in their garages with great ideas and little capital. This is no accident. Network neutrality protections minimized control by the network owners, maximized competition and invited outsiders in to innovate. Net neutrality guaranteed a free and competitive market for Internet content.

[edit] Preserving Internet standards

Numerous commentors have cautioned that authorizing incumbent network providers to override the separation of the transport and application layers of the Internet signals the end of the authority of the fundamental Internet standards and indeed, of the standards-making processes for the Internet themselves.[22]

Advocates of network neutrality observe that any practice that shapes the transmission of bits in the transport layer based on application designs will undermine the design for flexibility of the transport.

[edit] Preventing pseudo-services

Alok Bhardwaj argues that any violations to network neutrality would realistically not involve genuine investment but rather the provision of pseudo-services which amount to bribes or extortion. He argues that it's extremely unlikely new investment will be made to lay special networks for particular websites to actually reach end-users faster, but rather that violations to net neutrality will involve using quality of service in an artificial way to essentially extract bribes from websites to avoid being slowed down.[26]

[edit] End-to-end principle

Some advocates say network neutrality is needed in order to maintain the end-to-end principle. According to Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney:

Net neutrality means simply that all like Internet content must be treated alike and move at the same speed over the network. The owners of the Internet's wires cannot discriminate. This is the simple but brilliant "end-to-end" design of the Internet that has made it such a powerful force for economic and social good.

Under this principle, a neutral network is a dumb network, merely passing packets regardless of the applications they support. This point of view was expressed by David S. Isenberg in his seminal paper, The Rise of the Stupid Network[27]:

A new network "philosophy and architecture," is replacing the vision of an Intelligent Network. The vision is one in which the public communications network would be engineered for "always-on" use, not intermittence and scarcity. It would be engineered for intelligence at the end-user's device, not in the network. And the network would be engineered simply to "Deliver the Bits, Stupid," not for fancy network routing or "smart" number translation. ... In the Stupid Network, the data would tell the network where it needs to go. (In contrast, in a circuit network, the network tells the data where to go.) In a Stupid Network, the data on it would be the boss. ... End user devices would be free to behave flexibly because, in the Stupid Network the data is boss, bits are essentially free, and there is no assumption that the data is of a single data rate or data type.

David S. Isenberg The Rise of the Stupid Network[27]

These terms merely signify the network's level of knowledge about and influence over the packets it handles - they carry no connotations of stupidity, inferiority or superiority.

The seminal paper on the end-to-end principle, End-to-end arguments in system design by Saltzer, Reed, and Clark,[28] instead argues that network intelligence doesn't relieve end systems of the requirement to check inbound data for errors and to rate-limit the sender, not for a wholesale removal of intelligence in the network core.

[edit] Opponents

Opponents of net neutrality include large hardware companies and members of the cable and telecommunications industries.[5]

Network neutrality regulations are opposed by some of the Internet's most distinguished engineers, such as professor David Farber and TCP inventor Bob Kahn.[6][29] Vinton Cerf supports it while others oppose regulated network neutrality.[30]

Robert Pepper is senior managing director, global advanced technology policy, at Cisco Systems, and is the former FCC chief of policy development. He says: "The supporters of net neutrality regulation believe that more rules are necessary. In their view, without greater regulation, service providers might parcel out bandwidth or services, creating a bifurcated world in which the wealthy enjoy first-class Internet access, while everyone else is left with slow connections and degraded content. That scenario, however, is a false paradigm. Such an all-or-nothing world doesn't exist today, nor will it exist in the future. Without additional regulation, service providers are likely to continue doing what they are doing. They will continue to offer a variety of broadband service plans at a variety of price points to suit every type of consumer."[31]

Bob Kahn, one of the fathers of the Internet, has said net neutrality is a slogan that would freeze innovation in the core of the Internet.[6]

Dave Farber, Michael Katz, Chris Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber — Farber, known as the 'grandfather of the Internet' because he taught many of its chief designers, has written and spoken strongly in favor of continued research and development on core Internet protocols. He joined academic colleagues Michael Katz, Chris Yoo, and Gerald Faulhaber in an Op-Ed for the Washington Post strongly critical of network neutrality, stating, "The Internet needs a makeover. Unfortunately, congressional initiatives aimed at preserving the best of the old Internet threaten to stifle the emergence of the new one."[32]

Opposition also comes from think tanks such as the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. The communication carriers and network equipment manufacturers Cisco and 3M believe neutrality regulations are premature and/or counter-productive.[citation needed]

A number of these opponents have created a website called Hands Off The Internet[33] to explain their arguments against net neutrality. Principal financial support for the website comes from AT&T[citation needed]. Other members include technology firms such as Alcatel, 3M and pro-market advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste.

[edit] Arguments against network neutrality

[edit] Innovation and investment

Some opponents of net neutrality argue that prioritisation of bandwidth is necessary for future innovation on the Internet.[5] Telecommunications providers such as telephone and cable companies, and some technology companies that supply networking gear, argue telecom providers should have the ability to provide preferential treatment in the form of a tiered services, for example by giving online companies willing to pay the ability to transfer their data packages faster than other Internet traffic. The added revenue from such services could be used to pay for the building of increased broadband access to more consumers.[15] Opponents to net neutrality have also argued that net neutrality regulation would have adverse consequences for innovation and competition in the market for broadband access by making it more difficult for Internet service providers (ISPs) and other network operators to recoup their investments in broadband networks.[34] John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel of Verizon, broadband and telecommunications company, has argued that they will have no incentive to make large investments to develop advanced fibre-optic networks if they are prohibited from charging higher preferred access fees to companies that wish to take advantage of the expanded capabilities of such networks. Thorne and other ISPs have accused Google and Skype of freeloading or free riding for using a network of lines and cables the phone company spent billions of dollars to build.[5][35][36]

[edit] Counterweight to server-side non-neutrality

Those in favor of forms of "non-neutral" tiered internet access argue that the Internet is already not a level-playing field: companies such as Google and Akamai achieve a performance advantage over smaller competitors by replicating servers and buying high-bandwidth services. Should prices drop for lower levels of access, or access to only certain protocols, for instance, a change of this type would make internet usage more neutral, with respect to the needs of those individuals and corporations specifically seeking differentiated tiers of service. Network expert Richard Bennett has written, "A richly funded Web site, which delivers data faster than its competitors to the front porches of the Internet service providers, wants it delivered the rest of the way on an equal basis. This system, which Google calls broadband neutrality, actually preserves a more fundamental inequality."[37]

Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims[38] that the current Internet is not neutral as, "among all applications", its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time sensitive traffic over real-time communications.

[edit] Bandwidth availability

Since the early 1990s Internet traffic has increased steadily. The arrival of picture-rich websites and MP3s led to a sharp increase in the mid 1990s followed by a subsequent sharp increase since 2003 as video streaming and peer-to-peer file sharing became more common.[39][40] In reaction to companies including Google, as well as smaller companies starting to offer free video content, using substantial amounts of bandwidth, at least one Internet service provider (ISP), SBC Communications, has suggested that it should have the right to charge these companies for making their content available over the provider's network.[41] Bret Swanson from the Wall Street Journal said that YouTube, MySpace and blogs are put at risk by net neutrality. Swanson says that YouTube streams as much data in three months as the world's radio, cable and broadcast television channels stream in one year, 75 petabytes. He argues that today’s networks are not remotely prepared to handle what he calls the "exaflood" (see exabytes). He argues that net neutrality would prevent broadband networks from being built, which would limit available bandwidth and thus endanger innovation.[42]

[edit] Free speech

In the United States, the Bell companies and some major cable companies view non-discrimination as compelled speech prohibited by the First Amendment because they think that cases like Chesapeake and Potomac and even Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. v. FCC stands for the rule that Telcos and Cablecos are First Amendment speakers, and as such cannot be compelled to promote speech they disagree with.[citation needed]

[edit] Skepticism of government regulation

Given a rapidly-changing technological and market environment, many in the public policy area question the government's ability to make and maintain meaningful regulation that doesn't cause more harm than good.[43]

For example, fair queuing would actually be illegal under several proposals as it requires prioritization of packets based on criteria other than that permitted by the proposed law. Quoting Bram Cohen, the creator of BitTorrent,"I most definitely do not want the Internet to become like television where there's actual censorship... however it is very difficult to actually create network neutrality laws which don't result in an absurdity like making it so that ISPs can't drop spam or stop... (hacker) attacks."[44]

In line with this view, the Wall Street Journal wrote: "Government’s role here, properly understood, is not to tell Comcast how to manage its network. Rather, it is to make sure consumers have alternatives to Comcast if they are unhappy with their Internet service."[45]

[edit] Mixed and other views on net neutrality

Journalist Jeffrey Birnbaum has called the debate overhyped, saying the claims of both sides are "vague and misleading".[46]

Journalist Andy Kessler has argued that, though network neutrality is desirable, the threat of eminent domain against the telcos, instead of new legislation, is the best approach.[47]

Columbia University Law School professor Tim Wu observed the Internet is not neutral in terms of its impact on applications having different requirements. It is more beneficial for data applications than for applications that require low latency and low jitter, such as voice and real-time video: "In a universe of applications, including both latency-sensitive and insensitive applications, it is difficult to regard the IP suite as truly neutral." He has proposed regulations on Internet access networks that define net neutrality as equal treatment among similar applications, rather than neutral transmissions regardless of applications. He proposes allowing broadband operators to make reasonable tradeoffs between the requirements of different applications, while regulators carefully scrutinize network operator behavior where local networks interconnect.[11]

[edit] Legal situation

[edit] Law in the United States

There is ongoing legal and political wrangling in the US regarding net neutrality. In the meantime the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has claimed some jurisdiction over the issue and has laid down guideline rules that it expects the telecommunications industry to follow. On February 11, 2008 Rep. Ed Markey and Rep. Chip Pickering introduced HR5353 "To establish broadband policy and direct the Federal Communications Commission to conduct a proceeding and public broadband summit to assess competition, consumer protection, and consumer choice issues relating to broadband Internet access services, and for other purposes."[48] On 1 August 2008 the FCC formally voted 3-to-2 to uphold a complaint against Comcast, the largest cable company in the US, ruling that it had illegally inhibited users of its high-speed Internet service from using file-sharing software. FCC chairman Kevin J. Martin said the order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers, and indeed all communications companies, could not prevent customers from using their networks the way they see fit unless there is a good reason. In an interview Martin stated that “We are preserving the open character of the Internet.” The legal complaint against Comcast related to BitTorrent, software that is commonly used to download movies, television shows, music and software on the Internet.[49]

[edit] Law in the European Union

The European Union is going to take active action to legislate network neutrality by seeing the potential damage caused the non-neutral broadband. The European Commission, within the proposals to amend the European regulatory framework for the electronic communications networks and services published on 13 November 2007, considers that prioritisation, or in other words product differentiation, "is generally considered to be beneficial for the market so long as users have choice to access the transmission capabilities and the services they want" and "consequently, the current EU rules allow operators to offer different services to different customers groups, but not allow those who are in a dominant position to discriminate in an anti-competitive manner between customers in similar circumstances."[50] Furthermore, the European Commission thinks that the current European legal framework cannot effectively prevent network operators from degrading their customers. Therefore, it is proposed to empower the European Commission to impose a minimum quality of services in order to tackle this situation.[51] In addition, an obligation of transparency is also proposed to limit network operators' ability to set up restrictions on end-users' choice of lawful content and applications.[52]

The European Commission's proposal is being reviewed by the European Parliament at First Reading. In the summer of 2008, the lead committees in the European Parliament achieved their final draft reports. On 24 September 2008 the European Parliament held a plenary vote on the draft reports from those committees. At the next step the European Council will vote for its common position on the European Commission's legislative proposals on 27 November 2008. After that the negotiation between the European Parliament and the European Council will be made under the cooperation procedure. The adoption of those proposal is supposed to take place before the end of 2009.[53]

The first major debate on net neutrality in the UK was held at Westminster on the 20 March 2006, sponsored by AT&T. It was attended by the Government and Opposition trade secretaries, telecommunications regulators, industry figures and other experts in the field. Google, a noted supporter of net neutrality, declined an invitation to the debate, and then called it "biased".[54] The conclusion was that Net Neutrality laws in the UK would be "extreme... unattractive and impractical" and that it was "an answer to problems we don't have, using a philosophy we don't share".[54]

[edit] Law elsewhere in the world

Net neutrality in the common carrier sense has been instantiated into law in many countries, including Japan.[citation needed] In Japan, the nation's largest phone company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, operates a service called Flet's Square over their FTTH high speed Internet connections that serves video on demand at speeds and levels of service higher than generic Internet traffic. In South Korea, VoIP is blocked on high-speed FTTH networks except where the network operator is the service provider.[55]

According to Thomas Lum, a specialist in Asian Affairs: “Since its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has exerted great effort in manipulating the flow of information and prohibiting the dissemination of viewpoints that criticize the government or stray from the official Communist party view. The introduction of Internet technology in the mid-1990’s presented a challenge to government control over news sources, and by extension, over public opinion. While the Internet has developed rapidly, broadened access to news, and facilitated mass communications in China, many forms of expression online, as in other mass media, are still significantly stifled. Empirical studies have found that China has one of the most sophisticated content-filtering Internet regimes in the world. The Chinese government employs increasingly sophisticated methods to limit content online, including a combination of legal regulation, surveillance, and punishment to promote self-censorship, as well as technical controls.”[56]

[edit] Related issues

[edit] End-to-end principle

The end-to-end principle is one of the central design principles of the Internet, as well as in other protocols and distributed systems in general. The principle states that, whenever possible, communications protocol operations should be defined to occur at the end-points of a communications system, or as close as possible to the resource being controlled. According to the end-to-end principle, protocol features are only justified in the lower layers of a system if they are a performance optimization, hence, TCP retransmission for reliability is still justified, but efforts to improve TCP reliability should stop after peak performance has been reached.

The concept was highlighted in a 1981 conference paper End-to-end arguments in system design by Jerome H. Saltzer, David P. Reed, and David D. Clark. They argued that reliable systems tend to require end-to-end processing to operate correctly, in addition to any processing in the intermediate system. They pointed out that most features in the lowest level of a communications system have costs for all higher-layer clients, even if those clients do not need the features, and are redundant if the clients have to re-implement the features on an end-to-end basis. This leads to the model of a "dumb, minimal network" with smart terminals, a completely different model from the previous paradigm of the smart network with dumb terminals. However, the end-to-end principle was always meant to be a pragmatic engineering philosophy for network system design that merely prefers putting intelligence towards the end points.[citation needed]

[edit] Data discrimination

Tim Wu, though a proponent of network neutrality, claims that the current Internet is not neutral as its implementation of best effort generally favors file transfer and other non-time sensitive traffic over real-time communications.[11] Generally, a network which blocks some nodes or services for the customers of the network would normally be expected to be less useful to the customers than one that did not. Therefore for a network to remain significantly non neutral requires either that the customers not be concerned about the particular non neutralities or the customers not have any meaningful choice of providers, otherwise they would presumably switch to another provider with fewer restrictions.[citation needed]

While the network neutrality debate continues, network providers often enter into peering arrangements among themselves. These agreements often stipulate how certain information flows should be treated. In addition, network providers often implement various policies such as blocking of port 25 to prevent insecure systems from serving as spam relays, or other ports commonly used by decentralized music search applications implementing peer-to-peer networking models. They also present terms of service that often include rules about the use of certain applications as part of their contracts with users.[citation needed]

Most consumer Internet providers implement policies like these. The MIT Mantid Port Blocking Measurement Project is a measurement effort to characterize Internet port blocking and potentially discriminatory practices. However, the effect of peering arrangements among network providers are only local to the peers that enter into the arrangements, and cannot affect traffic flow outside their scope.[citation needed]

Jon Peha from Carnegie Mellon University in his paper "The Benefits and Risks of Mandating Network Neutrality, and the Quest for a Balanced Policy" presents a challenge for policy makers to create policies that protect users from harmful traffic discrimination while allowing beneficial discrimination. Peha discusses the technologies that enable traffic discrimination, examples of different types of discrimination, and potential impacts of regulation.[57]

[edit] Quality of service

Internet routers forward packets according to the diverse peering and transport agreements that exist between network operators. Many networks using Internet protocols now employ quality of service (QoS), and Network Service Providers frequently enter into Service Level Agreements with each other embracing some sort of QoS.

There is no single, uniform method of interconnecting networks using IP, and not all networks that use IP are part of the Internet. IPTV networks such as AT&T's U-Verse service are isolated from the Internet, and are therefore not covered by network neutrality agreements.

The IP datagram includes a 3-bit wide Precedence field and a larger DiffServ Code Point that are used to request a level of service, consistent with the notion that protocols in a layered architecture offer services through Service Access Points. This field is sometimes ignored, especially if it requests a level of service outside the originating network's contract with the receiving network. It is commonly used in private networks, especially those including WiFi networks where priority is enforced. While there are several ways of communicating service levels across Internet connections, such as SIP, RSVP, IEEE 802.11e, and MPLS, the most common scheme combines SIP and DSCP. Router manufacturers now sell routers that have logic enabling them to route traffic for various Classes of Service at "wire-speed."

With the emergence of multimedia, VoIP, and other applications that benefit from low latency, various attempts to address the inability of some private networks to limit latency have arisen, including the proposition of offering tiered service levels that would shape Internet transmissions at the network layer based on application type. These efforts are ongoing, and are starting to yield results as wholesale Internet transport providers begin to amend service agreements to include service levels.[58]

Alok Bhardwaj has argued that net neutrality preservation through legislation is consistent with implementing quality of service protocols. He argues legislation should ban the charging of fees for any quality of service which would both allow networks to implement quality of service as well as remove any incentive to abuse net neutrality ideas. Since implementing quality of service doesn't require any additional costs versus a non-QoS network, he argues there's no reason implementing quality of service should entail any additional fees.[26]

Xipeng Xiao provided in-depth coverage about the relationship between QoS and Network Neutrality in the book "Technical, Commercial and Regulatory Challenges of QoS: An Internet Service Model Perspective". The book presents a QoS big picture in a technology-light way so that people not in the technology field can also understand the issues of Network Neutrality well.

[edit] Over-provisioning

If the core of a network has more bandwidth than is permitted to enter at the edges, then good QoS can be obtained without policing. For example the telephone network employs admission control to limit user demand on the network core by refusing to create a circuit for the requested connection. Over-provisioning is a form of statistical multiplexing that makes liberal estimates of peak user demand. Over-provisioning is used in private networks such as WebEx and the Internet 2 Abilene Network, an American university network.

David Isenberg believes that continued over-provisioning will always provide more capacity for less expense than QoS and deep packet inspection technologies.[59][60]

[edit] Peer-to-peer filesharing

Residential broadband providers such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T claim that as bandwidth-intensive peer-to-peer file sharing applications become common place, the traditional Internet congestion management system, which was not designed to handle continuous, high-bandwidth usage, may no longer be viable, so alternate methods may become necessary. These alternate methods include bandwidth limits and priority-based quality of service for voice and video.[citation needed]

[edit] Pricing models

Broadband Internet access has most often been sold to users based on Excess Information Rate or maximum available bandwidth. Some argue that if Internet service providers (ISPs) can provide varying levels of service to websites at various prices, this may be a way to manage the costs of unused capacity by selling surplus bandwidth (or "leverage price discrimination to recoup costs of 'consumer surplus'"). However, purchasers of connectivity on the basis of Committed Information Rate or guaranteed bandwidth capacity must expect the capacity they purchase in order to meet their communications requirements.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Berners-Lee, Tim (21 June 2006). "Net Neutrality: This is serious". timbl's blog. Retrieved on 26 December 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Wu, Tim. "Network Neutrality FAQ". Retrieved on 26 December 2008. 
  3. ^ a b "A Guide to Net Neutrality for Google Users". Google. Retrieved on 2008-12-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Lawrence Lessig & Robert W. McChesney (8 June 2006). "No Tolls on The Internet". Columns. Washington Post. 
  5. ^ a b c d Hart, Jonathan D. (2007). Internet Law. BNA Books. p. 750. ISBN 1570186839, 9781570186837. 
  6. ^ a b c Robert Kahn and Ed Feigenbaum. (9 January 2007). An Evening with Robert Kahn (WMV). Computer History Museum. Retrieved on 2008-12-26. Partial transcript: [1]
  7. ^ Honan, Matthew (12 February 2008). "Inside Net Neutrality: Is your ISP filtering content?". Macworld. Retrieved on 26 December 2008. 
  8. ^ Uhls, Anna (19 April 2007). "Digital Divide: The Issue of Net Neutrality". Imprint Magazine. Retrieved on 2008-11-29. 
  9. ^ A bill to amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure net neutrality, S. 215
  10. ^ Berners-Lee, Tim (2 May 2006). "Neutrality of the Net". timbl's blog. Retrieved on 26 December 2008. 
  11. ^ a b c Wu, Tim (2003). "Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination". Journal of Telecommunications and High Technology Law 2: p.141. doi:10.2139/ssrn.388863. SSRN 388863. 
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