Net Neutrality – What Is It?

I was looking through the Internet this morning, when a story caught my eye. The subject was a term called ‘net neutrality’, which will probably not have too much affect on Australia for reasons that I’ll explain, but is an interesting subject nonetheless.

What is it? Well, it’s a phrase made up by Internet users who don’t like the tendency of the network owners (read Telstra, Optus etc) to prioritise content – at a price. Telcos in the US are pushing for their case, but the Federation Communications Commission’s head honcho, Julius Genachowski, is set to put the kibosh on it – the result being much happiness by the likes of YouTube, Google and Amazon, not so much with carriers like AT&T and Verizon. Telcos believe they have to disincentivise companies or people from downloading so much content to stop them slowing the network down.

So why shouldn’t it be an issue here? Well, the main problem in the US is that the Telcos are right – space is being squeezed on the internet, but this is due to some carrier plans that have unlimited content. Now, here in Australia, some plans do claim ‘unlimited content’, whereas in fact they are not. However, in the US, unlimited content, is, well, unlimited content, and that brings up a whole slew of problems for the carriers. Because with literally 10s of millions of users, and fair few of them downloading like crazy – the bandwidth is struggling to keep up, and therefore the solution from Telcos is charge more for when this happens, thus Internet users not being happy.

The likes of YouTube and Google love these unlimited plans for obvious reasons, but while they may be smiling, there will come a time – which some claim is fast approaching – whereby the information super highway will eat itself and the AT&T’s and Verizon’s of this world will be having a case of the “I told you so’s”.