Video explosion challenges Net neutrality

Conflict between neutrality and quality of service intensifies as excess backbone capacity saturates, observes an industry expert.

COMMUNICASIA, SINGAPORE--The case for Net neutrality is significantly being challenged as the combined rise of video demand and broadband growth, fails to fuel an equivalent growth in backbone capacity.

Ray Owen, head of technology at Motorola Asia, described Net neutrality as the need to preserve the ability of any Internet user to connect to a Web site or service, without interference or discrimination by the carrier providing that connection.

But during his presentation, "Net neutrality in a wireless world", at this week's imbX show, Owen noted a conflict between Net neutrality and quality of service (QoS). He described QoS as a networking term that specifies a guaranteed throughput level by prioritization of traffic.

Stressing that views expressed in his presentation were personal opinions and "not necessarily the views of Motorola", Owen noted that proponents of Net neutrality believe attempts to prioritize traffic would undermine the fundamental freedom of the Internet.

However, he said, supporters of QoS believe business models are fundamentally being undermined by new applications such as video content.

In 2008, excess backbone capacity will be quickly saturated by video, and broadband traffic in developed markets will approach saturation levels. As this happens, Net neutrality will be significantly challenged, Owen noted.

The value chain that goes through a backbone network and an Internet service provider, will change as content and network owners partner on a revenue-sharing model.

Owen said: "A combination of Net-neutrality breakdown and horizontal industry collaboration has got to occur at some point."