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“Net Neutrality!” Can they really control the internet?
Friday May 05th 2006, 5:31 pm
Filed under: Justice,media,politics,Truth
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There are so many questions regarding the proposed telecommunications regulations, and their possible effects on internet usage, that it’s hard for me to get a clear perspective on the facts or the discussion regarding “Net Neutrality”. But, I would be willing to bet my last dollar that the only reason that the major Telco’s are pushing such legislation is to rewrite the rules in their favor. And why not, everybody else is. Just look at the price of oil, wasn’t it that recently legislation was passed by our congress to help give the country a comprehensive Energy Policy to keep things in control with the best interest of the electorate. And here they go again; only now it’s time to take control of the internet.

Understandably the thought of “Controlling the Internet” appears to be a daunting task. In fact; could they do that? Isn’t there a hodgepodge of networks and technologies that is this wonderful melting pot for the whole world to share in? And it’s diversity almost impossible to control because of it’s complexity? As of now, the simple answer to that is: yes, they can control all of that.

Until recently, it would have been harder and before that almost impossible. So, to try and understand how they would do this and even scarier how Congress might write new legislation regarding this, let’s take a technical look from novice perspective at how the Telco’s supply us the Internet and how that control might work.

Now, if you recall, Al Gore invented the internet back in the 1990’s, right? Wrong, it actually was developed half a century ago at Bell labs in conjunction with the Defense Department as way to keep the Commander in Chief in touch with the nuclear arsenal during the height of the cold war. The concept is simple. Make use of the existing telephone line infrastructure and make it so the President can launch the bomb. No matter how much damage the country or the telephone infrastructure had sustained.

This led to the technology based on Internet Protocol or IP traffic. Where previously, the method of carrying voice on the phone lines was streaming, more akin to the wire between the tin cans in the experiment we all did as children. The IP method uses data in packages that have source and destination information included, and it slices those packages up in exact pieces and sends them out on the network to let them determine the path to the destination almost on their own. Technically, IP and Voice were different then. They could use the same wire. But, the equipment at the other end had to be the same protocol as the one it was talking to and the voice lines and IP traffic lines were allocated separately. They ran on different equipment. The IP equipment was expensive and rare. Back then, unless you were associated with the government and were eligible to access a .gov, .mil or .edu domain the uses were very limited.

And that’s when Al Gore invented the Internet. Or at least he cosponsored the legislation that brought us the modern registrations of .com, .org, .net, etc. The technologies developed for 40 plus years before Congress stepped up and made it widely available. The Unix operating system adopted it as a standard and high end workstations and networking gear at least were IP compatible. All this feeding the great genesis that was the dot com boom / bust.

Which is where our contemporary story only begins. All the players (Telco’s, switch manufacturers and computer makers) realize the voice and data network convergence is inevitable. Standards were developed and voice and data equipment soon became multi protocol. At the core, voice and data run on the same network. But there’s a problem. Voice still has to run in a stream and there can be no delays. After all we’ve gotten used to the voice quality of the ‘Pin Drop’. Internet phones are nowhere near that quality.

So a birth of technologies were spawned that support a concept called Quality of Service or (QOS). This relies on an ability inherent in the Multi Protocol Lable Switching (MPLS) to parse and decipher those exact pieces of IP traffic called packets. The process is called statefull packet inspection. And at the edge, when the traffic is reaching it’s dissemination, QOS determines the priority in which to proceed (usually voice first to avoid latencies) and in order to do that in needs to inspect the package for its contents.

This is where the meat of the discussion comes into play. This is where control can be implemented. This is where the NSA watches us. This is where the UN World Intellectual Property Organization wants create treaties to enforce restrictions on Creative Common License arrangements. This is where Foreign Governments impose censorship. This is where the Telco’s own all the traffic. This is where the freedom of the internet resides. And this is where “Net Neutrality” needs to be kept in place.

This was all brought into being because of the legislative break up Ma Bell. Ma Bell was broken up for a reason. If that wouldn’t have occurred we wouldn’t have the internet as we know it. Go back, before the break up, to when there is only one telephone company in America. They own all the lines and make all the equipment and determine all the direction of advancement and set all the rates. It’s their show and you have no choice.

Which gives them no choice but to beat us like the red headed step children we are. It’s human nature; greedy people tend to where their greed will be most rewarded. Greed is obsessive and will blind the greedy from other altruistic pursuits and in the end “We the People” are at the wrong end of the whipping stick. In the days when Congress worked for the People, they took the whipping stick back and broke the monopoly into a competitive marketplace that continues to develop.

It comes as no surprise that at this time of great advantage of the big business over the consumer that the greedy telco monsters would jump in and try to rewrite the rules to their own favor. And as the technologies become manageable to the point where control can be imposed, those with the will to take advantage will impose their own will. The question becomes: will “We the People” step up and impose our will, that we make be able to take full advantage of this market place of burgeoning advancement? Or will we let our voice, our freredom and our sacred choice: be lost.

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There is a lot of good info and historical perspective in this post – thank you for taking the time to go in depth and for all the links. If it’s not one type of corporate/government greed, it seems like it’s another. We have to keep resisting these multifarious attempts to silence our freedom.

Comment by tao 06.06.06 @ 6:59 pm

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