editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Net Neutrality Takes a Hit

Imagine that a private company creates a public toll road. This actually happens, so it’s not a crazy idea. In exchange for building and maintaining the road, the company gets to collect tolls. That’s the monetization model.

Of course, once that’s in place, that company (or, more likely, its shareholders) might randomly decide that they simply deserve (or want) more money. So they do a deal with a specific car manufacturer. Now the tolls will be higher for cars that aren’t made by that company. Then they do a deal with a particular grocery chain: cars carrying groceries from competing chains are denied access to the road.

Imagine that the electric company establishes a protocol for communicating with appliances across the power lines. Not satisfied with the stable revenue that a utility provides, let’s say they try to goose earnings up a bit and do a deal with a particular appliance vendor. Now, if you use the wrong appliance, you’ll be charged more for the power. Or perhaps power will not be delivered to that appliance at all.

These sound like crazy scenarios, right? They’re unlikely, since both entities are regulated. Well, that’s what net neutrality is about – the guy that provides the highway should give equal access to anyone that wants to get on the highway. The FCC is trying to make that happen in the same way that agencies regulate utilities and private toll roads. Except that the guys that own the information highways are just itching to take more control over who gets to go on their highway.

This would be a different story if we could make an ISP decision each time we went online. We then might pick one ISP for one website and a different ISP for some other website. But that’s not how it works. We only get one ISP. Rather than consumers getting a choice, it simply becomes a bigger piece of the fight for Ultimate Control of Everything. He/She with the most bucks wins. Good ideas and useful stuff without a big bankroll? Buh bye.

Yes, all the ISPs say they’re interested in maintaining an open internet. That may be partly because the FCC is trying to force them to, and they don’t want to be forced to, so they have to promise to play nice. If the FCC pressure goes away and the shareholders get an urge for a new yacht, will they still subscribe to lofty ideals that leave money on the table? If, say, Verizon decides to do a deal with Microsoft, might that mean that Bing would be the ONLY search allowed on the Verizon network? <shudder>

A US appeals court today decided that the FCC didn’t have the authority to craft the rules it put in place. It’s not clear yet whether they’ll appeal, change the rules, or just give up. If it’s the latter, then, barring some major transformational change, the internet will practically fall under the control of a few ginormous companies. Yes, anyone will be able to create a website and put it on the net. But if they can’t afford the fees for preferential (or even for any) access, will anyone see it? And if the website competes with content that the ISP already owns, then no fee may be high enough.

Granted, such provisions aren’t in place now, and it’s premature to assume they will happen. On the other hand, if none of the ISPs had any interest in putting any such restrictions in place, why would they spend so much legal money trying to preserve their right to do so?

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Aug 13, 2020
My first computer put out a crazy 33 MHz of processing power from the 486 CPU. That was on “Turbo Mode” of course, and when it was turned off we were left with 16 MHz. Insert frowny face. Maybe you are too young to remember a turbo button, but if you aren’t ...
Aug 13, 2020
Hi readers! Welcome to Veri-Fire, a blog series that helps you deep dive into Virtuoso® ADE Verifier and learn about its various whys and hows. In this series, Walter Hartong, a Product... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community site. ]]...
Aug 13, 2020
Imagine ambling into a small town, heading to the nearest public house to blow the froth off a few cold beers, and hearing your AI whisper '€œ...'€...
Aug 7, 2020
[From the last episode: We looked at activation and what they'€™re for.] We'€™ve talked about the structure of machine-learning (ML) models and much of the hardware and math needed to do ML work. But there are some practical considerations that mean we may not directly us...

Featured Paper

True 3D EM Modeling Enables Fast, Accurate Analysis

Sponsored by Cadence Design Systems

Tired of patchwork 3D EM analysis? Impedance discontinuity can destroy your BER and cause multiple design iterations. Using today’s 3D EM modeling tools can take you days to accurately model the interconnect structures. The Clarity™ 3D Solver lets you tackle the most complex EM challenges when designing systems for 5G, high-performance computing, automotive and machine learning applications. The Clarity 3D Solver delivers gold-standard accuracy, 10X faster analysis speeds and virtually unlimited capacity for true 3D modeling of critical interconnects in PCB, IC package and system-on-IC (SoIC) designs.

Click here for more information

Featured Paper

Improving Performance in High-Voltage Systems With Zero-Drift Hall-Effect Current Sensing

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

Learn how major industry trends are driving demands for isolated current sensing, and how new zero-drift Hall-effect current sensors can improve isolation and measurement drift while simplifying the design process.

Click here for more information

Featured Chalk Talk

LPC5500 MCU Series

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and NXP

Security is key in today’s edge designs, but where to start with designing-in security? Ad-hoc security strategies are recipes for disaster. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Brendon Slade of NXP about the powerful new LPC5500 series of MCUs from NXP that have great performance and security designed in from the ground up.

Click here for more information about NXP Semiconductors LPC5500 Series Arm® Cortex®-M33 Microcontrollers