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[ NNSquad ] Re: Definitions: "Network Neutrality" (and "National Security")

Brett Glass wrote:
> It reflects the decentralized nature of the Internet. Ultimately, I
> as an ISP only have full control of my own infrastructure. When
> packets leave my network, I can make no guarantees about what
> happens to them thereafter. They may go through a dozen providers'
> networks on the way to their destination. Unless you want to go back
> to a centralized system, there's no avoiding that. "Ma Bell" in the
> days of the Bell System monopoly could guarantee the quality of a
> call from end to end. I can't.

All of us here likely know how the Internet works in that respect,
and I'm not suggesting that ISPs be able to guarantee external
end-to-end bandwidth in their ToS.  That's obviously impossible.  On
the other hand, most ISP ToS agreements essentially take
responsibility for little other than specifying a theoretical
maximum speed (which often isn't reached for technical reasons)
between the customer and (in the case of DSL, for example) the

Beyond that, all bets are typically off.  They usually don't say
anything about how your bits will be handled, whether (all else
being equal) outside sites will get the same throughput as ISP
internal or partner sites, what bandwidth caps are in use and how
they'll be enforced, which user applications will be subjected to
"special negative handling" ... and so on.  

For nearly any other product or service, this sort of arrangement
would have consumer rights advocates up in arms.  I believe one
reason that hasn't really happened (until now) is that it's been
very difficult for consumers to fully understand what is really
happening on their circuits, making cogent complaints difficult.

With solid data and metrics, perhaps we can help the good ISPs shine
with the public, while taking any "less than stellar" ISPs to task as
appropriate.  That's a major part of what this project is all about.

NNSquad Moderator