a.k.a. network neutrality, NN
Network neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be able to access any Web content they choose and use any applications they choose, without restrictions or limitations imposed by their Internet service provider (ISP). In other words, this term refers to a network as not favoring one application or certain Web content over another, but rather should provide services in a nondiscriminatory, unrestricted fashion.
The debate over net neutrality has waxed and waned in the nation's capital for years. It gained prominence after critics accused Comcast of preventing customers from sharing files through BitTorrent and similar sites, resulting in an FCC investigation into Comcast's network management practices. The company has said it managed traffic to preserve bandwidth for less intensive users. It has vowed to improve its network management practices and lead efforts to set industry standards.
Proponents of network neutrality reacted to Comcast's proposals with outrage. They want policymakers to pass laws requiring cable and telecommunications companies to manage traffic in a non-discriminatory way. They include Stanford University law professor Lawrence Lessig, a software quality engineer who raised the issue after being unable to share songs with friends. Like many who support stronger network neutrality measures, proponents fear that ISPs could block information in favor of its own content.
Comcast, other ISPs, some FCC commissioners, the U.S. Department of Justice, and other groups oppose network neutrality regulations, saying that they would inhibit competition and stifle innovation. Similarly U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T has claimed that, without investment, the Internet's current network architecture will reach the limits of its capacity by 2010.
"Now we face a constitutive choice with the Internet -- a choice between closed networks where the network operators control the user experience and open networks that are controlled by end users," said Michael Copps, one of two commissioners who have spoken in favor of stronger network neutrality measures. "This is an issue in which you must engage, not just because you are innovators and businesspeople, but because you are citizens," he said. "If I see what's happening accurately, I believe we will have an opportunity, before very long, to decide this issue of Internet freedom."
As Vint Cerf, co-inventor of the Internet Protocol, has stated, "The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. A lightweight but enforceable neutrality rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive."
There are several somewhat related meanings in which "net neutrality" are associated with, including:
(1) No different quality grades ("fast lanes") for Internet service.
(2) No price discrimination among Internet providers.
(3) No monopoly price charged to content and applications providers.
(4) Nothing charged to the providers for transmitting their content.
(5) No selectivity by the carriers over content they transmit.
(6) No blocking of the access of users to some websites.
For more information on the net neutrality debate, including a link to tell Congress that you are FOR net neutrality, click on the links below.
NetLingo Classification: Technical Terms
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