Net neutrality or protection racket?

Summary:If peer to peer traffic is clogging the Internet and slowing down Skype calls, why not mark it as lower priority and do the download overnight? The software updates and Word of Warcraft files that use P2P quite legally aren't hugely urgent and that kind of 'when you’re not busy' bandwidth usage is how Microsoft makes Windows Update polite (the Background Internet Transfer Service doesn't work quite like P2P but some of the principles are similar).

If peer to peer traffic is clogging the Internet and slowing down Skype calls, why not mark it as lower priority and do the download overnight? The software updates and Word of Warcraft files that use P2P quite legally aren't hugely urgent and that kind of 'when you’re not busy' bandwidth usage is how Microsoft makes Windows Update polite (the Background Internet Transfer Service doesn't work quite like P2P but some of the principles are similar).

The problem with that, Skyfire CEO Jeff Glueck commented when he was demonstrating the new Symbian version of his mobile browser to us is that it's the thin end of the wedge. "Our perspective as a startup is that some proposals being floated around for Quality of Service are quite radical and potentially threatening to the open democratic process," he said.

Glueck was invited to testify at the FCC hearings on net neutrality in Boston and he thinks that the proposals to charge Internet services more for lower latency when there’s network congestion will play in favour of incumbents with deep pockets.

Because the big sites are popular, but they're far from being all people want on the Internet - he knows that from what pages Skyfire users visit. "The long tail for Skyfire just continues to amaze me," says Glueck; "We always think if there's some density in the number of people watching the same site, can we create efficiency by caching it? But it really isn't the same sites people visit - other than Google search. It's just tens of thousands of sites with two or three visitors each."

”Telcos and cable companies are eager to start creating toll roads and steerage class on the Internet, but these rules could make it hard to ever see the next eBay, YouTube or Facebook. The NBCs and Foxes, and now Google, will just kill innovation and buy priority access for all their content. Those of us who require live access to a server and aren't file downloads that run overnight will be restricted to steerage class unless we pay protection money. We do believe there is a tragedy of the commons on mobile; something has to change but don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater - don’t throw out the open Internet.”

-Mary

Topics: Windows

About

Born on the Channel Island of Jersey, Simon moved to the UK to attend the University of Bath where he studied electrical and electronic engineering. Since then a varied career has included being part of the team building the world's first solid state 30KW HF radio transmitter, writing electromagnetic modelling software for railguns, and t... Full Bio

About

Mary Branscombe is a freelance tech journalist. Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

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