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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

ISPs Won't Win Neutrality Battle

The fight for "net neutrality" continues, with ISPs such as Comcast desiring to keep their practice of discriminating against peer to peer applications private. If ISPs are to continue slowing traffic to protocols such as BitTorrent, they will minimally have to disclose that they are doing so, according to MediaPost. The FCC is expected to rule on net neutrality this summer, and ISPs probably won't win their absolute right to continue such practices. BitTorrent is a legal and legitimate application for commerce, and so the company and its licensees have a strong case to prevent ISPs from selectively degrading the performance of their service. On the other hand, ISPs can't be impeded from taking any steps to manage their bandwidth, so neutrality must have some wiggle room. Compromise is clearly needed because the nascent streaming and legitimate file sharing markets can't be slowed by a seesaw battle between technologists at BitTorrent to design software to fool ISPs, who would then rewrite their management software to counter any changes. According to Technology Review, a Princeton University professor has developed the basis for an algorithm that would balance the needs of the ISPs and the peer networks. Working together is necessary for the online streaming and file sharing companies to compete in a free market. The FCC's decision should reflect that these two camps need to work together to eliminate prejudice in bandwidth management.

By John Gartner at 08:40 AM | Comments (0)

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