When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

25 June 2006

Neutral Net: A Battle for Control of the Web

Next week, the Senate will jump into a heated debate that divides the titans of the new economy -- companies like Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo -- from those of the old -- AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner and Comcast.

The issue is 'net neutrality,' and it has to do with how much control the companies that build the Internet pipelines -- mostly telephone and cable companies -- should have over the content that runs through those pipelines and whether they can force content providers to pay for the privilege.

The Internet is set up so that users can use any legal Web site or application, and all Internet traffic is treated equally. But downloading a two-hour video eats up far more bandwidth, or space on the Internet pipeline, than an email.

Telephone and cable companies have suggested they may start charging fees to Internet-content companies, like Google, whose content is eating up large portions of their bandwidth. Companies that refuse to pay might find their content moving at slower speeds over the pipeline than the content of those that do pay...
An excellent, thoughtful treatment of an issue that isn't nearly as black-and-white as many people who are squawking about it (from both sides) in the blogosphere make it out to be.

The telcos and cable companies still know their way around Washington better than the high-tech guys do, although Microsoft, Google and similar companies have come up to speed on that in recent years.

Wall Street Journal - Neutral Net: A Battle for Control of the Web (subscription required)

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