Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It's not new regulation, dumbass

After his critique of Matt Yglesias' post on net neutrality, Kevin Drum writes:
Although both cable companies and telcos provide local internet access, the backbone of the internet is carried exclusively by telcos, which were regulated as common carriers under the tighter TS rules. The common carrier rules effectively enforced the principles of net neutrality on the internet backbone.

A series of court cases between 2000 and 2005 changed all this.
As Kevin notes, until last year, net neutrality was the law of the land anyway. That's why this has become a big fight all of the sudden - because the FCC changed the definition of what was acceptable behaviour on the Internet backbone.

Imagine for a moment that someone published a book on Manners and Etiquette saying that it was okay to crap on the dinner table. They might present any number of arguments for why it was desirable - nay, necessary - that people crap on the dinner table. This would not change the fact that we'd be forced to eat shit.

The FCC decision last year effectively made it acceptable to crap on the Internet when it hadn't been before, and we're all being forced to eat it.

Changing gears slightly, it's worth pointing out that the telcos have been fighting for the end of neutrality for years now, and they've finally gotten their wish. I know I've argued before that adding partiality to the network is more expensive than simply providing more bandwidth, but I suspect that's not true anymore.

Here's why. Given that they've been fighting for partiality for five years, and given that the FCC is notoriously "captured" by the telcos, they must have started adding intelligence to the network years ago. Cisco began marketing intelligent routers back in the late 1990s, so I'd wager it's been at least that long.

This means that by now, the network probably has all the intelligence it needs by now. When the dust settles and the telcos decide to eliminate net neutrality, all they'll need to do is flip a switch, or execute a command or something.

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