Net Neutrality Links
I’m adding this link to the Net Neutrality Page.
FROM PDF: Nuts and Bolts of Network Neutrality by Edward M. Felten, Center for Information Technology, Princeton University, was released in July 2006.
In this essay, Mr. Felten presents unpacks the murky mysteries of Net Neutrality. The paper is unemotional, understandable, unbiased, and well-written. His stance is detached and instructional stance which leads to a detached, observer’s conclusion.
Read this and Mr. Felten’s work if you need to know what Net Neutrality is about. If you want to know what to do, read MA Bell Monopoly Versus the Free Internet.
Ed Felten Explains, Then Is Silent
Mr. Felten begins his essay by saying
One of the reasons the network neutrality debate is so murky is that relatively few people understand the mechanics of network discrimination. In reasoning about net neutrality it helps to understand the technical motivations for discrimination, the various kinds of discrimination and how they would actually be put into practice, and what countermeasures would then be available to users and regulators. These are what I want to explain in this essay.
Felten offers seven core issues that underpin the discussion. I summarize them here.
- The Argument Is Partly about Controlling Innovation. Unlike most networks, the Internet is built with the intelligence at the edges. Routers in the “center” transmit and receive. Three advantages of this are that the intelligence is where the resources — computers, memory, processing power — are; network users own and control the computers at the edge; innovation usually happens faster at the edge.
Those for Net Neutrality tend to be at the edge. Those against tend to be in the center. Both groups want to control the intelligence and thereby control innovation.
- Minimal Discrimination Is a Necessity; Non-Minimal Discrimination Is Purely Economical. When a router in the “center” receives more than it can transmit, it “buffers” incoming packets in memory to wait for an outgoing link. If the buffer is full, the router must discard a packet — any packet.
One way a router might choose which packet to drop is by assigning priorities. In what Felten calls minimal discrimination the router only discards packets when congestion requires it. A second way, or non-minimal discrimination, drops low-priority packets when they could be sent through. Minimal discrimination is an engineering necessity. Non-minimal discriminatiion is an economic choice.