Net Neutrality

Just read this post on Doc Searls about this.

Basically, the net should be a base service along with telephony and cable ( or, given the rise of VOIP and You Tube, as a service on which telephony and TV/cable runs) .

But that is not always the case simply becuase the wide variety of different companies who own different line networks each  work to keep the others off thier network. Confused? I sympathise. Thst may be the case in the US. Here in the Uk, the issue is slightly simpler, though no less touchy.

Till about 15 years ago, the whole telephone network was nationalised under British Telecommunications ( most other services such as gas and electricity were also nationalised). So today all the physical network  cables are owned by BT. But there is a huge number of companies that offer phone and broadband services. They do this by “buying” x thousand lines from BT every month that they ,in turn, sell to their customers. However, to get things done (i.e. installing an extra phone line or  a braodband line) thoise companies still have to work though BT. So even though the lines are guarenteed to thes carriers by law, BT discourages people from switching by dragging its feet when it comes to sending engineers out.

I know this becuase we just moved house two months ago. BT told us it would take them 3 days max to have our broadband line connected if we went with them. We went with another carrier and it took 6 weeks . In fact the reason why I had no broadband for 6 months was becuase BT dragged its feel replacing the Broadband line.

So, although the little guy might not see this as much of a big deal, business cannot rely on such service and are forced to go with BT in order to guarentee a phone and broadband line.

Doc Searls:

First, the Net is a vast set of connections on which countless services can be deployed. Telephony and television are just two. Because telephone and cable companies offer Internet connections as a secondary “service” on top of their primary businesses, we tend to think of the Net in the same terms. This is a mistake. The Internet will in the long run become a base-level utility, and we will come to regard telephony and television as two among many categories of data supported by that utility.

Second, the end-to-end nature of the Net puts everybody on it in a position to both produce and consume. It is not just about consumption. It is at least as much about production. In the U.S., telephone and cable companies have deployed Net services in asymmetrical and crippled forms from the beginning. While this crippling is easily rationalized (typical usage is asymmetrical, and turning off outbound mail and web service ports discourages spamming), it also serves to discourage countless small and home businesses. Worse, “business-grade service” (symmetrical with no port blockages) is so expensive in most cases that it is essentially prohibited.

Third, most customers in the U.S. face a choice of one or two Internet carriers: their local phone and cable companies. Other providers can only sell services that run on those carriers. (Since the Brand X decision in 2005, phone and cable companies can keep any of these other providers off their lines if they want to.) In many areas (such as mine), only one company provides “high speed” Net access. There is no choice, and there is no competition.