Why you should care about network neutrality.

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May 1 2006 4:35 PM

Why You Should Care About Network Neutrality

The future of the Internet depends on it!

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None of this is to say that a good network-neutrality rule must be absolute, or even close to absolute. It's an open secret that AT&T and Verizon want to become more like cable television companies. If Verizon wants to build a private network to sell TV, that would justify broad powers to control the network, a precondition to providing the service at all. No neutrality rule should be a bar to building better networks that do more.

But what must be banned are blocking, gratuitous discrimination, and choosing favorites. While it's one way to earn cash, it's just too close to the Tony Soprano vision of networking: Use your position to make threats and extract payments. This is similar to the outlawed, but still common, "payola" schemes in the radio world. Yes, there's money in such schemes, but they aren't good for the industry or the country. If allowing network discrimination means being stuck with AT&T's long-term vision of the Internet, it won't be worth it.