Network Neutrality: How It Works, And Where We Go From Here

May 16, 2017

The term net neutrality has been popping up a lot in recent months, as the policy is reviewed in Washington.  But what does it mean for an Internet service provider to be neutral? We look at how two key aspects of this:  web speed, and the management of Internet traffic, impact our daily browsing, businesses, and privacy. 


GUESTS:

  • Rob Fleischman - Principal architect at Akamai Company, which develops internet infrastructure that delivers web content to consumers. 

Fleishman defines network neutrality as:

Your connection to the internet, whether it's brought to you by a cable provider, DSL provider, wireless provider, or dial-up provider, should play no favorites. That's really the simplest way to describe it. Your connection to the internet shouldn't play favorites, Netflix shouldn't run faster than Hulu, or you shouldn't be able to search quicker with Bing than with Google. It really should be a neutral environment in terms of content, and the delivery of that content to you. 

Fleischman says that there are three sides to this issue: the government, which is influenced by lobbyists and also by large companies, the content providers, like Netflix, and then the internet providers. The problem now, he says, is that:

Internet service providers like [Comcast and Verizon] are not just internet service providers anymore, some of them are content providers. So things get a little complicated when you're in two businesses, and perhaps there are some conflicts of interest. 

The Los Angeles Times has "A brief, strange history of net neutrality (including a 'series of tubes,' a dingo, and James Harden)," which breaks down the history of net neutrality. 

John Oliver, of Last Week Tonight, released scathing critiques of new reforms aimed to limit net neutrality, and CNN follows up with "John Oliver tackles net neutrality again, encourages viewers to 'go FCC yourself'." 

The New York Times reported on the new changes proposed by FCC chairman Ajit Pai, "F.C.C. Chairman Pushes Sweeping Changes to Net Neutrality Rules."