Network Neutrality

Network Neutrality

Charlie Angus on "Net Neutrality"

Unfortunately the question didn't separate the "Net neutrality" issue, which isn't yet regulated in Canada, and "competitive access" which only exists in Canada because of regulation. If it were not for regulators requiring competitive access for those companies with the last mile monopolies, we wouldn't have *any* other ISPs or local phone services except those offered by the incumbent phone and cable companies. The non-answer from Minister Prentice is extremely disappointing, and suggested to me he is not adequately watching this critical telecom competition file.

Separating the competitive access issues from the Net Neutrality issues.

Bell throttling wholesale providers of DSL services has further opened up the conversations around Net Neutrality. Michael Geist has written about the mounting call for action on net neutrality from organizations such as the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) and Council of Canadians. I strongly applaud and join in this call.

The throttling of wholesale traffic by Bell Canada is, however, an issue that is related but distinct. Its link to the net neutrality debate needs to be understood, as well as the ways in which it is quite different.

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NDP's Charlie Angus on Net Neutrality: Throttling net traffic sets dangerous precedent,

The following is from a posting on

NEW RULES ARE NEEDED TO PROTECT NET NEUTRALITY: Throttling net traffic sets dangerous precedent

2008-03-27: The NDP is calling on Industry Minister Jim Prentice to establish clear ground rules to limit the interference of telecommunication giants in consumer’s use of the internet. NDP spokesman for Copyright and Digital Issues, Charlie Angus, made the call following revelations that Bell Canada is throttling the ability of third party internet service providers (ISPs) to offer high bandwidth access to its consumers.

Canada's next great prime-time television experience -- throttled by Bell

Yesterday morning I read another note about legacy phone and cable companies throttling competing P2P traffic that mentioned the fact that CBC made the show Canada's Next Great Prime Minister as a DRM-free file via BitTorrent. I decided to download the torrent files (Yes, both encoded versions -- I also wanted to become a seed), and later in the evening I pointed my Neuros OSD to the high quality version and watched it with Rina (my wife).

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The engineering of a political problem

Most people are not technical people. In fact, many people have a form of mental block where an issue that they would normally engage in becomes "too complex" simply by adding a computer or something technical to the discussion. Politicians and government bureaucrats are regular people this way, nearly turning their brains off as soon as you hit a certain threshold of technical jargon.

People with specific political agendas abuse this. They take what is really a policy question best left for political people to decide in a democratic society, and add in sufficient technical content which encourages political people to give up control over questions of policy. Policy debates around core new technology issues such as "DRM" and "Net Neutrality" are particularly prone to this type of corruption.

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Can I not avoid traffic shaping?

Recently, I rid myself of my Bell Sympatico account. Their policies, traffic shaping included, finally bothered me enough to switch ISPs. This time, I decided to go with an ISP with policies that I could support: the NCF. They provide a decent service, backed by teksavvy with decent policies. Now, much to my frustration, it seems that Bell has found a way to shape traffic through ISPs who don't support their silly practises.

An ideal future communications infrastructure, how do we get there, and what is stopping us!

Whenever the discussion of "Net Neutrality" comes up we often get stuck with how the current network is configured, who provides it, and other historical issues. I would like to toss out that history for a moment and offer what I believe to be an ideal, talk about transition issues, as well as some of winners and losers in that transition (and thus who the greatest opponents are)

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Trying to understand parliamentarians’ misunderstanding of core new technology issues

When asked about what the core concepts are for understanding what made "new media" possible, I talk about two things:

  • the movement away from communications technology where the network was smart and the terminals were dumb (radio, television, telephone), towards a design where the network is dumb and the terminals are smart (also known as the end to end principle)
  • the movement away from communications technologies being expensive and only owned by large media companies, to technology being owned and controlled by private citizens

Combined, these two features enable innovation since any two persons can communicate with each other in any way they want simply by making agreements between those two parsons, and configuring their 'smart terminals' to communicate in this manner.

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Telecom Ottawa sold to private provider

Well, for those fans of the "last mile" concept, here is one more dream you can say good bye to. This week, Hydro Ottawa announced that it had approved a bid to sell off its fibre-optic network to a private Internet company, Atria Networks LP.

Copyright is yet another place where Google and Microsoft are competing.

It was interesting to read two articles from CBC earlier this week that had the same website URL except one was dated the 12'th and the other the 13'th. The first had the headline "Canada a top copyright violator, U.S. group says" and the second "Business coalition opposes harsh copyright reform".

Which association is being more honest, and which is abusing policy makers confusion about "unintended consequences".

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