Saturday, June 13, 2009

Net Neutrality, What Me Worry?

I've been monitoring the issue of net neutrality in the US , as well as in Canada, waiting for the other shoe to drop on the issue. I'm not holding my breath. Google is a big proponent of net neutrality and here's excerpts from their net neutrality page::
"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...Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet...Today, the neutrality of the Internet is at stake as the broadband carriers want Congress's permission to determine what content gets to you first and fastest. Put simply, this would fundamentally alter the openness of the Internet."

The core of the issue is whether the owners of the Internet infrastructure can control or restrict content for profit or whatever reason. Whatever reason could get pretty murky, as when Telus blocked a pro-union website. Maybe the future can't always be friendly. At stake is whether the Internet should be viewed as an infrastructure, allowing free flow regardless of content and who is using it.

Well, Charlie Angus-NDP MP {Timmins-James Bay} very recently introduced a net neutrality bill. This is on the heels of reports of large telcos "throttling" speeds at the wholesale and residential level. Down in the US, Comcast's throttling of Bittorrent was deemed illegal by the FCC. Well, last year Angus ran circles around Jim Prentice-PC MP {Calgary Centre-North}, then Minister of Industry, now Minister of Environment, in a lively exchange::

Ah, Mr. Prentice, the "well advanced Internet system" is slow as molasses, compared to other OECD nations::

Glad to see Canada {and the US for that matter} aren't in any backwaters of the Internet, Mr. Prentice. Even Australia with less population density fares better than the US & Canada. At least it's relatively cheap, right? Ah, no. The US & Canada pay more {around $45US/month}, while the top 3 in speed pay $30, 37, & 36US/mo., respectively. Looking at the French numbers, maybe we all should be looking to Paris for ideas.

Addendum:: The "Gestetner age" that Charlie Angus is referring to in the video clip has to do with David Gestetner's stencil duplicator {AKA: mimeograph}, an early business technology.

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