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There has been a lot of discussion on the internet in the last few days about Google's apparent decision to give up on the fight for Net Neutrality

The following Wall Street Journal article Google Wants Its Own Fast Track on the Web started the whole discussion. Essentially the WSJ argued that the use of edge servers was a violation of net neutrality because it would "create a fast lane for its own content"

In post #2, I have put out the complete text of Google's response on its corporate public policy blog from Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel.

Also a link to Stanford Law Professor Lawrenece Lessig, guru of the net neutrality movement who calls it "The made-up dramas of the Wall Street Journal"

Your thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Text from Google Blog

One of the first posts I wrote for this blog last summer tried to define what we at Google mean when we talk about the concept of net neutrality.

Broadband providers -- the on-ramps to the Internet -- should not be allowed to prioritize traffic based on the source, ownership or destination of the content. As I noted in that post, broadband providers should have the flexibility to employ network upgrades, such as edge caching. However, they shouldn't be able to leverage their unilateral control over consumers' broadband connections to hamper user choice, competition, and innovation. Our commitment to that principle of net neutrality remains as strong as ever.

Some critics have questioned whether improving Web performance through edge caching -- temporary storage of frequently accessed data on servers that are located close to end users -- violates the concept of network neutrality. As I said last summer, this myth -- which unfortunately underlies a confused story in Monday's Wall Street Journal -- is based on a misunderstanding of the way in which the open Internet works.

Edge caching is a common practice used by ISPs and application and content providers in order to improve the end user experience. Companies like Akamai, Limelight, and Amazon's Cloudfront provide local caching services, and broadband providers typically utilize caching as part of what are known as content distribution networks (CDNs). Google and many other Internet companies also deploy servers of their own around the world.

By bringing YouTube videos and other content physically closer to end users, site operators can improve page load times for videos and Web pages. In addition, these solutions help broadband providers by minimizing the need to send traffic outside of their networks and reducing congestion on the Internet's backbones. In fact, caching represents one type of innovative network practice encouraged by the open Internet.

Google has offered to "colocate" caching servers within broadband providers' own facilities; this reduces the provider's bandwidth costs since the same video wouldn't have to be transmitted multiple times. We've always said that broadband providers can engage in activities like colocation and caching, so long as they do so on a non-discriminatory basis.

All of Google's colocation agreements with ISPs -- which we've done through projects called OpenEdge and Google Global Cache -- are non-exclusive, meaning any other entity could employ similar arrangements. Also, none of them require (or encourage) that Google traffic be treated with higher priority than other traffic. In contrast, if broadband providers were to leverage their unilateral control over consumers' connections and offer colocation or caching services in an anti-competitive fashion, that would threaten the open Internet and the innovation it enables.

Despite the hyperbolic tone and confused claims in Monday's Journal story, I want to be perfectly clear about one thing: Google remains strongly committed to the principle of net neutrality, and we will continue to work with policymakers in the years ahead to keep the Internet free and open.

P.S.: The Journal story also quoted me as characterizing President-elect Obama's net neutrality policies as "much less specific than they were before." For what it's worth, I don't recall making such a comment, and it seems especially odd given that President-elect Obama's supportive stance on network neutrality hasn't changed at all.
 

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FWIW, I think the important distinction Google is trying to articulate is "We've always said that broadband providers can engage in activities like colocation and caching, so long as they do so on a non-discriminatory basis."


My brain agrees with Google on this point but my gut instinct is that this is a bit scary because it opens a door I would prefer was kept closed.
 

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Let me get this straight.

It isn't net-neutral if an ISP charges a content provider to prioritize their packets, but
It is net-neutral if the content provider gives the ISP a handful of servers to cache their packets for faster delivery?

Hmmmm?
 

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^ Yes. Net-neutrality has to do with packet delivery between two points. If Google rented some space in a Bell datacentre and placed some servers there, the traffic between you and these servers and you and other Bell routers/servers (which traffic from other sites pass through) would be treated the same.
 

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Actually from what I understand, the ISP's would pay Google. The reason is that having edge servers would reduce the ISP's bandwidth for a video from Youtube in half.

The reason is the ISP has to stream the video from Google to their datacentre and then to the customer. By having the server at the datacentre the ISP dramatically reduces network congestion and bandwidth thereby lowering costs and latency.
 

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I'm pretty sure that Akamai, which has been doing basically the same thing for years, pays ISPs colocation fees. However due to Google's unique position, you may be right.
 

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I suppose I prefer this type of non-neutral net. At least Google, Akamai and the others are trying to improve the speed and efficiency of the Internet for their content. Whereas, if the ISPs had their way, they'd throttle Peter to pay Paul while charging everyone more for Enhanced Service Level Agreements.
 

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Bell is regulating internet traffic (nevermind the caching), with a recent CRTC decision in support of Bell. The internet in .ca is changing and net neutrality is, now more than ever, at stake and this forum is a great place to garner support... check out saveournet.ca for example.
 
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