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Net neutrality and cloud computing

January 17, 2014

NetNeutrality_logoIn case you weren’t paying attention, the January 14 ruling on “net neutrality” by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit court on Verizon v. FCC changed the internet – for now. What’s “net neutrality?” The Wikipedia definition states:

“Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging differentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, and modes of communication.”

The court ruling essentially kills that principle, and will allow Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T to slow down or even block internet traffic unless the content provider (Netflix, which competes with ISP on-demand movies is the current hot example) pays the ISP a premium for optimal delivery of their content. For their part, the ISP’s believe that since they built their network infrastructure, they should have the freedom to manage it as they wish. The Wall Street Journal editorialized their position:

“Net neutrality travels under the guise of ordering Internet service providers like Verizon and Comcast not to discriminate against content providers. In reality it’s a government attempt to dictate how these providers must manage their Internet pipes and how much they can charge companies for using those pipes.”

So your Netflix bill may increase because they may have to pay the ISP’s more to deliver a smooth movie streaming experience, but what about your applications in the cloud? They could be impacted, too. You know, Salesforce, Netsuite, Workday, Ultimate Software, Kronos in the cloud, and many others…

The Verizon v. FCC ruling is a big deal, and FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler hasn’t yet indicated his agencies strategy, but he has blogged that the FCC “is not going to abandon its responsibility to oversee that broadband networks operate in the public interest.” In the Los Angeles Times, David Lazarus described a solution and its formidable opposition:

“The solution, obviously, is for the FCC to reclassify Internet service providers as Title II entities, which would allow the agency to lower the boom on any network operator that failed to maintain net neutrality.

Easier said than done, though. The big telecom companies already have made clear that they won’t stand for such a change and will use their substantial political clout to keep it from happening. AT&T shelled out more than $12 million in political contributions last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Verizon ponied up nearly $10 million to politicians.”

Looks like I’d better get back to watching “Breaking Bad” on Netflix while I can still afford it.

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