Last week, the Wall street journal has put Net Neutrality in the public limelight with a strangely misinformed article on which the Guardian sheds a lot more light( Bloggers trash Journal’s tale of cyber queue-jumping). I agree with the Guardian article which seems to be much more balanced and informed considering that most people would consider co-locating servers to be different from Net neutrality and co-locating is similar in approach to Akamai which has been in use for a long time now.
The WSJ article has pushed net neutrality in the limelight though .. And that’s a (good) side effect of the (poor) article.
Net neutrality reminds me of capitalism .. I.e. it is based on freedom of choice for the consumer and I like to think of it as ‘All packets are created (commercially) equal’.
The lack of choice (or restrictions on packets) reminds me of the old Berlin wall. As far as I know, people have not attempted to cross the wall the other way round(go into East Germany from West Germany) and people risk their lives to build boats from Cuba to the USA.
You don’t see any boats going from the USA to Cuba!
The point is: People will gravitate towards freedom – either in a political system(Capitalism) or in connectivity(Net Neutrality) and the customers/people are the main drivers to Net neutrality as I see it(as they were responsible for the fall of the Berlin wall and of an outdated ‘business model’ i.e. communism)
And this rate of change can only accelerate
As per the Law of Disruption (Unleashing the killer app), the rate of change of technology is exponential in contrast to the rate of change in society which is liner. But we are also seeing change in technology accelerating a change in society in many ways. So, I expect that there will be a greater push to open systems, Net neutrality etc.
Take this example from my own experience:
Like many travellers I depend on WiFi at airport lounges. That was two years ago. Now we have Mobile Broadband(HSDPA) in the UK. I don’t need WiFi. In fact, the only reason I need the comfortable seats in airport lounges(provided by the WiFi providers) is for their power supply! I.e. I will sit on the seat provided by the WiFi provider, use their power supply but connect to my Mobile Broadband networked(which is fixed price!).
All this for a network(WiFi) which was installed in the last two years which has now become ‘outdated’ by Mobile Broadband. That’s sad for the provider but it is the way networks work!
And remember that Internet is not the Information Superhighway – because a Superhighway implies a single path and that means toll bars! There will always be alternate paths for people to choose freedom and connectivity ..
Note that I do not say that there should be no business model for Telecoms networks. In fact, the biggest business model for data networks at least here in Europe is Mobile Broadband/ HSDPA. This is a pure network strategy. It is commercially very lucrative and it is likely to be more so in future. Similarly, I see a business model for network in devices such as Amazon Kindle and they provide a strong motivation for carriers to Open up
So, this is not a ‘lack of business model’ issue but rather ‘holding on to a flawed(arcane) business model’ issue
The power of connectivity to transform lives is immense! I find this story about the growth of RareShare: A Community For People With Rare Medical Problems inspiring .. . We need global connectivity since it benefits individuals and promotes freedom of thoughts , ideas and enterprises.
New business models are also emerging for the network providers .. the flaw lies in clinging to arcane business models defying the wishes of the customers worldwide who want to connect.
Let us end with capitalism vs. communism debate. Not many people know that when computers were first introduced in India, the Left parties opposed it on the grounds of job losses(aka protecting arcane business models) .. if that would have prevailed .. India would have missed out on the billions of dollars of technology and grassroots benefits and would not have uplifted a whole generation within such a short time ..
The promised land as it turns out is not ONLY of milk and honey .. but of computers, mobile phones and as yet unknown devices and business models .. all connected .. globally .. and in that sense Net neutrality is like Capitalism as I understand it ..
The picture shows Cuban refugees trying to cross into America using a modified craft