The implication here is that US-based providers will be able to differentiate traffic based on their own requirements, and according to some defending the principle this could impact on smaller websites and services, which could not compete with larger organisations if everything came down to money - paying to have your traffic flowing ahead of the competition.
"The future Sergey Brins, the future Marc Andreessens, of Netscape and Google...are going to have to pay taxes" to broadband providers, said Rep. Ed Markey, the Massachusetts Democrat behind the Net neutrality amendment. This vote will change "the Internet for the rest of eternity," he warned.
For Americans, you can read more about this issue and outcomes here.
We have some Net Neutrality experience here in New Zealand, but not all is neutral. Some ISPs decided to peer with others and exchange traffic, through the Wellington Internet Exchange and others (Auckland, Palmerston North, Dunedin and more on the way). This guarantees a faster flow of data inside the country.
The problem is that not all ISPs agreed to peer, or decided to remove themselves from the peering exchanges. The results is that some of the New Zealand national traffic is actually routed somewhere overseas before coming back, making the whole Internet a lot slower for users here.
I know that two largest ISPs in New Zealand, Xtra and TelstraClear, are not peering, which may well cause delays in national traffic for the majority of Internet users in this country.
For example, when I try to see a stream from the Citylink Wellington Webcams I am actually greeted with a page explaining how sorry they are, explaining:
The various webcams that Citylink runs generate significant data traffic - during the day, about 20Mb/s, at night, about 10Mb/s. At peak times, it has moved as much as 700Mb/s of data. In the past, Citylink has incurred significant costs in delivering content from the webcams to users. I've been told never to let that happen again.
Thus, it has become necessary for Citylink to configure some of our services such that we don't run up a bill, by limiting access only to ISP's that choose to peer on WIX. These are generally high volume, low financial return services that are provided to encourage a competitive, vibrant and strong telecommunications and information technology industry.
Shame, really, because these decisions impact in the overall Internet usability in both cases.
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