On Net Neutrality

    Date08 Apr 2010
    Posted ByAnthony Pell
    On Tuesday in Washington, DC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the FCC lacks authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks. This begs two questions. First, if not the FCC, then who has that authority? The second, bigger question is what does this do for the issue of Net Neutrality in the United States?

    The decision was a victory for cable provider Comcast who has been accused of traffic shaping on its network. Comcast argues, perhaps correctly, that since they built the network and since they manage the network, they are in the right when it comes to what traffic can and cannot cross their network.

    On the other side are users and companies, like Google, that feel that the pipes, regardless of who owns them, should be open and available to whomever wants to use them.

    And therein is the rub. Third party providers of services such as VoIP have long complained that Comcast has been throttling their packets, resulting in a lower quality of service, while Comcast gave a higher QoS its own packets. This is all well and good if you are trying to keep a competing product out (or so the mantra of capitalism would go) but it causes issues when you are communicating between systems, or, as Google has argued in the past, when the route from Point A to Point E goes across the network of Point C.

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