Wednesday, June 21, 2006

My take on Net Neutrality

I support the idea of Net Neutrality. The Internet, as we know it, was initially set up with this idea in mind. What many people do not realize is that the Internet is based on the concept of “Try to get your message across.” This has absolutely nothing to do with quality or speed. With the growing popularity of multimedia, quality AND speed do become an issue.

Right now, the primary application in the spot light is Voice over IP. Skype, Vonage, Charter Phone, and all of the other “Internet Phone” companies are wanting Net Neutrality so that their customer base will continue to have a level of quality for which they are willing to pay for the service.

Network providers, like ATT, are against Net Neutrality because they not only provide the communication service which enables companies like Vonage to even exist, they also provide a service which directly competes with Vonage. From ATT’s perspective, they are feeding their army and the army of their enemy. If you were ATT, then you would be against Net Neutrality, too.

Another aspect of Net Neutrality has to do with bandwidth. As more and more people make the jump to VoIP, bandwidth consumption will start to rise. Once other multimedia services grow in popularity, even more bandwidth will be consumed. This is why companies, like Google, are buying up “Dark Fiber.” They know the future bandwidth demands are going to skyrocket and this is their insurance for their continued fast response.

The likely end result will be similar to what has taken place in the media industry. The consumer will pay a “Media Tax” on VoIP services, just like the media companies get a percentage of every blank video tape or CD you buy.

Interestingly, one of the HUGE barriers to wide adoption of multimedia over the internet has to do with compression algorithms. What is needed is a powerful processor to do the complex calculations. This November, one of the most powerful computing engines available for the home will be released. I would imagine this will be an enabler for other products and services.

It is also interesting that one of the key players making this technology available is also a huge multimedia company – Sony.

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