Any Neutrals In The Net Neutrality Argument?

I never sit on the fence. However, I am split by the net neutrality arguments. The reason for this is that there are really two arguments here:

1. Should providers block users from accessing content via their connection to the internet?

2. Should providers prioritise different types of traffic?

The first issue is clear cut to me. If you buy access to the Internet from a service provider then you should be able to access any part of the Internet you decide. Exclusion by country, websites or application is not acceptable, even though it is common.

For example mobile networks blocking access to Skype to stop people from making free calls on their unlimited data tariffs. I do not consider this acceptable. This is an issue about censorship and freedom of expression and unimpeded access to public information. Emotive stuff! I would like to stress that I only consider this in the context of legal content.

The second issue is something different it is about the management of traffic over an ever increasingly congested network suffering from the effects of richer user experiences. All networks are by definition shared by a number of users. The main reason for sharing networks is to spread the cost and the first rule of sharing is that there must be rules.

The principle that you should queue to get your emails whilst you are share a network with someone downloading multiple HD videos is flawed. Users should expect their provider to manage this type of mismatch.

And so we do. The way we manage it is through financial incentive. If you want a service where you can download as much as you want, whenever you want, you can – you just have to pay more for it. If you want to use less bandwidth then you can get away with a cheaper product.

It’s simple; Service Providers categorise users and traffic and charge according to their drain on network resources. This seems fair, on the basis that you cannot have a network with infinite bandwidth.

So to summarise; 1 is about censorship 2 is about economics. For those of you who may be confused, using 2 to manage and influence 1 is still 1.

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Hugo is a seasoned telecoms professional and leads Star’s Unified Communications strategy. He is responsible for delivering Star’s Network Services products, working with customers to develop new voice and data products and services to solve today’s business challenges.