net neutrality

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 "neutral" fashion.

The debate over net neutrality has waxed and waned in the nation's capital for years. As Vinton 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.

Historical perspective: Net neutrality 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 said it managed traffic to preserve bandwidth for less intensive users. It 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. Like many who support stronger network neutrality measures, proponents fear that ISPs could block information in favor of its own content.

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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