Net Neutrality: All Packets Are Created Equal

The essence of Net Neutrality is “All Packets are created Equal“. No ISP should block or prioritize any traffic based on what the IP Packet carries. That is, no VoIP/Skype, YouTube video, music download or Bittorrent traffic should be processed differently based on its nature. All packets will be equally treated by the network infrastructure.

This week the Net Neutrality debate has been agitated by an article in The Wall Street Journal accusing Google of violating the net neutrality principles with their OpenEdge efforts to locate Google servers in the premises of broadband providers. Google was quick to deny the accusation and clarify their position in their official blog.

Soon many voices, like Larry LessigSave the InternetPublic KnowledgeDavid Isenberg, or Wired, have responded to clarify the confusion created by the WSJ article.

What is wrong with investing in more servers and putting them closer to the users? With Google/YouTube handling such a huge traffic, it is normal that Google wants to cache as close to the users as possible to make their service better. Caching is not a new practice in Internet. Companies like Akamai have been doing it for years, specially for video and audio streaming.

Net Neutrality is not about “let’s forbid anyone to invest more to improve their service over others”.

Net Neutrality should not prevent either that a Telco can build a separate IP network where they can prioritize their own traffic depending on its nature, e.g., to provide IPTV HD multicasts streams. Telcos must be free to build alternative IP infrastructures to deliver innovative services, as long as they also offer a neutral broadband service. If anyone wants to build a new top-notch IP network to provide 3D holographic pictures, no one should forbid it. The only thing the authorities should guarantee is a competitive market for a broadband access service where all bits are treated equal. Public initiatives to incentive investment on high-speed broadband are also advisable as the Internet is a key public infrastructure, as important as roads or railways.

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