is the core
concept of a
But before we
net neutrality is,
we need to
the internet is.
In order to fill a glass of water from your sink,
you need two things…
A system of pipes to get the
water to you house
The internet providers are like the pipes.
They create the infrastructure that carries the
content to your computer.
They are companies
like AT&T, Verizon,
Comcast, and Time
Right now, web content could have to travel
across the world, and on average, jumps
through 18 routers to get to your computer.
This takes time.
The web content providers are the companies that provide the
water that flows through these pipes. Their survival depends on
being able to use these pipes to get to your computer.
They are companies like Google, Apple, Cisco, and Microsoft.
The amount of content (water) is growing
faster than the infrastructure (pipes), so the
pipes jam up, and the internet slows down.
As the internet slows down, some web content
companies (water) feel like they should be able
to pay the providers (pipes) for faster service,
so their water will flow through the pipes first.
This means a company
like Google would be able
to pay a provider like
Verizon for priority
service. Their content
would make it to your
It would also mean that
companies that couldn’t
pay for the priority
service would be slower.
Net Neutrality is the principle that providers
should not be able to favor some web content
over other content by providing it faster. In
other words, it is the belief that all online
content should be treated indiscriminately.
The net neutrality controversy was sparked in 2008 when
Comcast was favoring some content over other content.
The Federal Communications Commission went after
Comcast for violating Net Neutrality principles.
Although Net Neutrality was common practice for the
“pipes,” at the time it was purely voluntary.
Comcast sued the FCC.
Two years later, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that the
FCC had no grounds for reprimanding Comcast, and the
FCC had no authority to enforce net neutrality based on
the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
There have been several failed bills to give the FCC the
jurisdiction to enforce net neutrality. None have passed thus
far, and congress is expected to address the issue soon.
Some other controversial “solutions” to
the net neutrality debate…
In 2010, Google struck an agreement with Verizon, where
Google pays Verizon for holding and powering its data
centers in the same locations as the Verizon servers
around the country. This would mean Google web
content has a shorter distance to travel, which would
make it faster.
Google and Verizon
claim that this doesn’t
violate net neutrality
because Verizon isn’t
giving priority service
to Google. It is just
making it so the web
content has a shorter
distance to travel.
Google’s faster service
does not make other
web content slower.
Others claim that
violates the spirit of
net neutrality, and
Google has failed in
its core principle…
“Don’t Be Evil.”
Another “solution” would be to provide tiered
internet service, where some customers would pay
a higher monthly fee for faster service.
Advocates of this argue
that it makes business
Opponents argue that
it is discriminatory and
would limit internet
access to poor
The final solution will be determined by legislation
that clarifies the FCC’s role in regulating the internet
and enforcing net neutrality.
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Miller, Claire Cain, and Miguel Helft. “Google Plan Disillusions Some Allies.” New York Times 16 Aug. 2010:
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Mulligan, Edward B.,V. “Derailed By the D.C. Circuit: getting network management regulation back on track.”
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Times. Web.23 Nov. 2010.
Stehle, Vincent. “Why Nonprofits Should Care About Net Neutrality.” Chronicle of Philanthropy 3 Oct. 2010.
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