Tuesday, January 03, 2006

new threat to the internet

The existing threats are copyright law (which is being used to restrict the creative commons) and perhaps others such as altering the code that runs the internet, as explained by Lessig in his books.

The recent new threat is the attack on network neutrality by telcos, also known as, common carriers, telephone companies, ISPs

The nasty telcos are saying things like this:
SBC/AT&T CEO Ed Whitacre's comment that Google, MSN and Vonage want to, "use my pipes free, but I ain't going to let them . . . these people who use these pipes [have] to pay,"
- from Business Week
and, this:
BellSouth CTO William L. Smith thinks that BellSouth . . . should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc.
- from Washington Post
Up until now all internet data has been equal. But now those who own the pipes want to treat some data as more important than other data.

WHY NOW?

"As the Internet becomes more capable, Internet telephony, Internet TV and other applications are causing the old network service providers (telephone and cable companies) to lose revenue."
- David Isenberg

The phone company and broadcast TV were once dominant services but are now moribund and dying due to increased capabilities of the internet such as VOIP. Of course they will not go quietly.

ALLIANCE OF THE THREATENED

Those who have felt threatened for some time by the internet include "... magazine and newspaper publishing, broadcasting, cable television, the record industry, the movie industry, and the telephone industry"
- http://worldofends.com/

The transformation from physical or analogue transmission to digital transmission undermines the business model - selling physical or difficult to copy objects - of all of the above industries. In a digital world where copying and distribution is effortless and free all of the above industries need to change or they will die.

THE PARADOX OF THE BEST NETWORK

"The best network is the hardest one to make money running"
- http://netparadox.com/

This follows from the End to End principle. The internet simply moves bits. All the value is created at the ends, there is no value in the middle. This is the best network design.

There are businesses who like the internet and have learnt how to make money from it. Companies such as Google, Amazon, EBay, Yahoo, Apple and MicroSoft.

A company like Google downloads the whole internet and provides search facilities. They become popular and then sell discrete advertising.

Of course, millions of ordinary people love the internet as well, with or without e-commerce.

THE THREAT IS REAL
On Sept. 15, the first major draft of proposed changes in the nation's telecommunication's laws was circulated by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The draft said Internet service providers must not "block, impair, interfere with the offering of, access to, or the use of such content, applications or services." On Nov. 2, another draft of the bill came out . . the prohibition on blocking or impeding content was gone.
- David Isenberg
ANOTHER DEFINITON AND EXAMPLES OF THE VIOLATION OF NETWORK NEUTRALITY
Network neutrality is simple. It is simply content and application agnosticism. When a network operator deliberately introduces an impairment in their network aimed at specific applications or classes of applications, that violates network neutrality.

Blocking Port 25 violates network neutrality. Introducing upstream jitter deliberately to make third-party VOIP impossible violates network neutrality. Detecting Skype and blocking it violates network neutrality. The broadcast flag violates network neutrality. Capping long downloads to discourage TV over IP violates network neutrality. These fail the content and application agnosticism test ...
- David Isenberg

Main Reference:
http://isen.com/blog/

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