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The Fight for a Toll-Free Internet

Another interesting and informative article on the issue of network neutrality says that “Colleges worry that research and distance education could be left behind if broadband companies are allowed to favor certain content.” The same can be said for citizen access to government information.

The online version requires a subscription, but the ACM has this useful summary:

The hot-button “network neutrality” issue is of critical concern to academic institutions, who fear that broadband providers’ preferential treatment of certain types of content could hurt their efforts to deliver education and collaborate on research over the Internet. Colleges are lobbying Congress to require telecom companies to allow any kind of Web content or network applications, including those that rival their own offerings, to pass through their broadband pipes, and not to practice discrimination against certain types of network traffic. Meanwhile, telecom firms have been pushing lawmakers to reject net neutrality provisions, arguing that the profits they stand to reap by exacting a toll from users who want their online content to be prioritized and delivered expeditiously would recoup their costs for upgrading network infrastructure for consumers. There is consensus among academic leaders, consumer groups, and technology companies that splitting the Internet into faster and slower service tiers betrays the underlying principles of openness upon which the Web was founded, and could therefore threaten innovations and consumers’ unrestricted access to critical information. At a Senate commerce committee hearing in February, Gary Bachula with the Internet2 consortium cited the high-speed Abilene network and the sophisticated applications it supports as an example of innovations that are being crafted by end users rather than phone or cable companies. “That requires an open-standards-based nondiscriminatory Internet,” he argued. An anonymous college lobbyist reports that many college presidents are torn between two camps: Broadband carriers in whose good graces the presidents wish to remain because they often supply campuses with communications services; and distance-learning and research programs that could be seriously degraded by a tiered Internet.
(ACM TechNews, May 05, 2006)

CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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