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Google and Net Neutrality

The Net's neutrality has just been hit hard. The August 4 issue of the New York Times reports that Google is in talks with a major telecommunications provider Verizon that Verizon will allow Google traffic to take priority in accordance with the financial agreement between the two giants (Edward Wyatt, “Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers , The New York Times , August 4, 2010). Let's try to evaluate the possible results of these negotiations, all the surrounding circumstances and a new point of view on the development of the Internet: the arrival of videos from the Web on home television screens.

To begin, let's define the “net neutrality” ( net neutrality ). It is not about freedom of speech, nor about the special importance of a distanced approach, the main difference of which is the balance of ideas (the “principle of neutrality”, as it is used, for example, in Wikipedia). Neutrality of the Network derives from the fundamental principle of the Internet, according to which all “information packets”, regardless of the addresses of the sender and the recipient, are processed by the nodes of the Network, routers, in exactly the same way. <...> If the server suddenly introduces a new way of encoding information (for example, as was the case with Real Networks when they created the first streaming protocol in 1995), all that is needed is to distribute the playback software (Real Audio players), and the opportunity experiment, develop your product and hope someday in the future to take your place under the sun in the new digital economy. No need to ask anyone for permission: the network should only skip the coded data, and only the popularity among consumers will determine the success of a service.

It is this principle of universal support and openness to technical and social innovations that made the Internet a new nervous system of the world, as we know it today. Thanks to the same principle, so-called P2P (peer-to-peer) protocols, used to disseminate large amounts of information, have been developed. These protocols are currently used primarily for music and video sharing, but they are also the cause of the global acceleration of the Internet. <...>

The question under discussion, however, concerns rather the neutrality of network services in relation to consumers. What is the attitude of the web to sites and client software? Is there a slowdown in accessing certain sites in order to speed up access to the largest content providers? Are all sites served equally?
These questions about the neutrality of the Network can not be resolved through private discussions of network participants, as in the case of Google and Verizon, but only through public debates. The game also includes issues of transparency of information for users, economic models, democratic rules and a ban on uniting players in the telecommunications and information market into huge monopolies.

It is for this reason that Barack Obama, immediately after taking office, instructed the FCC ( Federal Communications Commission ) to define the neutrality of the Network and prepare a law to prevent lobbying. In France in the spring of 2010, on the initiative of Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet (Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet), public hearings were held on the Network Neutrality . The European Commission also announced "Public Hearings on the Open Internet and Network Neutrality . " Enterprises and citizens of the European Union can take part in these hearings until September 30.

The question of network neutrality is certainly political (uniformity of information processing and equality of information sources), but it is also economic: to what extent is the data transmission network architecture and position taken by operators allowing the emergence of innovative technologies and the arrival of new players?

Now operators are trying to get more space for commercial maneuvers. They have few individual customers who can go to competitors, they want to receive part of the profits of content producers. The Web has greatly changed the Network: the “horizontal” Internet pioneers, where everyone with equal probability could be the source and recipient of data (for example, as in the case of email, newsgroups, FTP servers and even P2P networks), turned into an asymmetric structure, which the needs of a huge mass of users are served by the efforts of a small number of information sources. Social networks can be counted on the fingers, as well as video hosting and large informational portals, but their users are numerous and scattered throughout the planet, which, by the way, makes it difficult to establish interaction between various telecommunication networks (the so-called "peering").

Therefore, along with the “best effort” approach, characteristic of the Internet, the meaning of which is that the operator tries to make every effort to ensure the service, regardless of the particular client, file size or network load, risking a great loss in quality when an overload occurs, strategy of "quality of service" (quality of service, QoS), according to which the operator gives priority to specially paid traffic. This approach is quite understandable in telemedicine and cloud computing applications, as well as in private networks and, for example, networks providing digital television services (IPTV). The question of the neutrality of the Network comes down to whether it is possible to extend this differentiation to content providers who are willing to pay the appropriate price.

Joint interests and secret negotiations

When it comes to mobile networks in which the allocated frequency band remains small, the issue becomes more complex. Access to the Web from mobile devices is becoming increasingly popular, and according to some forecasts, in a few years up to 80% of web users will be mobile. Will the existing model of a fixed data transfer fee remain? Comcast, a US cable television, telephone and Internet service provider, in 2008 expressed a desire to change its tariffs depending on the intended use, in particular, to slow down the exchange of data via P2P protocols. The FCC intervened and attempted to prevent this violation of the neutrality of the Network. Comcast went to court and in April of this year a decision was made: in the liberal system of the United States, the federal agency cannot influence the technical decisions of private companies (see Edwart Wyatt, "US Court Curbs FCC Authority on Web traffic" , The New York Times , April 6, 2010). This judgment severely limits the role of a regulator such as the FCC. As telecommunications regulation weakens, we are increasingly seeing the efforts of government agencies (for example, ARCEP in France) aimed at simplifying the orientation of users in the diversity of offers and preventing collusion between telecommunication operators. <...>

Why has Google, which has so far defended the neutrality of the Network and the independence of content providers from telecommunication companies, changed its tactics? The reasons may be many, but we will focus on two:

Today, Internet service providers, including Orange, Free and SFR, provide access to television via the same cable, but such services as web video from the TV screen, thematic search and social networking features have not yet been implemented. And if television broadcasting via an Internet cable uses its own protocol, providing the best quality of service, then the web on the TV screen remains the web, thus entering the sphere of network neutrality. By the way, bandwidth is becoming an increasingly important parameter, especially since YouTube is constantly increasing the quality of the video, offering already 4K videos (4096 by 2304 pixels) for telepresence systems. The wide distribution of this format will require a transition to a new level of networks, “ultra-broadband” (fiber-optic). However, even standard-quality video (HD with 1080 pixels) is very demanding on bandwidth. By the way, Google is not the only player in this new broadcasting market. Boxee also offers a similar device and, according to a corporate twitter blog, finds it "incredible that Google made this deal with Verizon." Others will follow this deal.

It is becoming clear that the “Network Neutrality” is completely commercial and political. <...>

This text is an abridged translation of the article “Le poids des monopoles, le choc des vidéos” from the blog “Puces savantes” (“Smart Bugs”) of the magazine Le monde diplomatique.

Source: https://habr.com/ru/post/102239/

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