How About Shaming Telcos Into Remaining Neutral?
from the creative-solutions dept
In the (mostly misguided) debate about net neutrality, one of the problems is that neither side seems willing to admit that they're bending the truth in a lot of ways. Both are making dire predictions that won't come true if they don't get their way. This really is a debate where it's difficult to know who to support. The telcos, clearly, are looking to prevent additional competitive services. Yet, handing regulatory power over the internet to a government agency always is risky -- and could open up a Pandora's box of other problems down the road. That's why we've been intrigued by more creative solutions, such as scaring the telcos straight, by threatening to take away their networks using "eminent domain" language. Of course, there may be another option as well: shaming the telcos into keeping the network neutral. If the telcos are caught blocking any content, the public outcry would likely be pretty damaging. However, simply degrading the traffic would be a lot harder to detect, and could allow the telcos to claim ignorance. Technology to the rescue. Broadband Reports points us to a new technology that would test how neutral a network is, by making traffic appear as if it's coming from a particular provider or a particular type of traffic (such as VoIP), and judging how the telco treats that traffic. If widely used, this type of tool would allow people to "out" any telco found to be degrading competitive services, hopefully shaming them away from doing so. Of course, given how blatant some telco execs have been about this topic -- perhaps they wouldn't care. In places where they don't face any serious competition, they'd probably ignore the outcry anyway -- or make excuses about how it's necessary to protect against "congestion."