Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Net neutrality: Controversy is under way

Obama's statement in support of Net Neutrality was the most highlighted topic yesterday. Given its impact, it is relevant to go into detail in order to resolve some questions about the meaning and connotations of a hypothetical Internet running at different speeds.

Net Neutrality is defined as a principle that establishes that all traffic flowing through a network (in this case, the Internet) should be treated equally, regardless of its content and origin. If this principle is broken down, it could lead to a situation where the data of a video had preference against a text, or a specific media website with high volume of users gained priority over other sites.

Net neutrality is a subject that raised in the US when the popular streaming service Netflix reached an agreement with Comcast a few months ago. The conditions of such agreement resolved that Comcast would favor Netflix’s traffic in exchange of a payment. Meanwhile the telecom giant AT & T offered companies to pick up the tab for user’s data usage on specific streaming contents they sponsor. A relatively similar situation it appeared in Spain regarding the Tuenti’s messaging application for users of such Mobile Virtual Operator.

At a first sight, this measure benefits users but new services with limited resources would potentially be at disadvantage against other well established Internet services. Then the entry barriers would increase for new services, affecting competition, what will ultimately and negatively impact not only over not the knowledge society, but over each user since they will have a reduced number od choices.

To have a wider view of the complexity of this case, large Internet providers such as Google or Amazon have shown their rejection of the proposal, although supposedly they will have an advantage over weaker competitors with this paradigm shift. But actually it would involve an almost obligatory financial outlay (because if they do not, others would) that they are not willing to pay. In May, the US industry lobby pressured the market regulator, even changing FCC’s chairman, to accept the measures jeopardizing the neutrality of the network, which it did.

Well, the latest headline is well known. Obama, who appointed the new chairman of the FCC and was aligned with the lobby’s position at the time, is now running against the measure to favor net neutralityAt European level, neutrality is assured for now thanks to the approval of Digital Agenda’s "Connected Continent" initiative.

As you can see, controversy is under way.


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