Network Neutrality Questions Raised Again

from the here-we-go-again dept

The issue of network neutrality has received a lot of attention in the past year. The worry is that the broadband gatekeepers (the service providers who manage the networks) will somehow mess with and degrade the quality of services offered over those networks to harm competitors offering applications and services on those networks. Those who fear such a thing, want the FCC to mandate “network neutrality,” making it illegal for a network provider to ever do such a thing. Network operators quickly respond by noting that, in a competitive market, they would be nuts to do such a thing. As soon as word got out that they were playing unfair, it would simply drive customers to competitors who didn’t fiddle with the applications running over their network. Who’s right may depend on how competitive the market really is. If, as some people clearly believe, the market for broadband is really a monopoly or duopoly for most users, then the providers’ argument is hard to support. In the meantime, competitive providers are really trying to push the FCC forward. The latest is a VoIP provider named Nuvio that is warning the FCC that without a mandate for network neutrality, the local network operators will “have nothing to lose and everything to gain from degrading the connection quality.” Again, this is only true in a situation where there really isn’t that much competition — which might just be the case right now in many areas.

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