Matthew Lasar/Ars Technica: How Will We Know When the Internet is Dead?

by on Nov.10, 2010, under Uncategorized

(Original article at Ars Technica)

By Matthew Lasar

Are we moving towards two Internets? Or are we devolving towards an Internet along with something that superficially resembles the ‘Net, but isn’t? A small battalion of noted broadband engineers, developers, and academics have sent the Federal Communications Commission a thank you letter for simply noticing this dichotomy—an “open” version of cyberspace that treats all packets equally, versus an emergent space where ISPs will spawn a range of priority accessed products that the agency calls “specialized services.”

“Your addressing this distinction in itself enables the analysis and pursuit of policy goals to proceed with a profound new level of clarity,” wrote Apple Computer cofounder Steve Wozniak, New America Foundation technologist Robb Topolski, and over 30 other writers on Thursday:

If you only establish a mandate to analyze the market in these terms, you will have moved the policy framework forward definitively. The prospect of technological developments making possible specialized treatment of some applications, without differentiating these practices from Internet service, has obscured the greater value of the general purpose platform that application-independent treatment of packets makes possible.

In other words, the FCC has built the conceptual framework necessary to notice when the open Internet has become closed.

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