IN A MOVE that has caused panic to ripple through websites, newspapers and broadcast bulletins across the world, Google and leading US Internet Service Provider (ISP) Verizon have made a deal about what they call the “thorny issue of network neutrality”.
The proposed deal has alarmed many who believe that is will be the precursor to the end of the internet as we know it. The “thorny issue” of net neutrality that Google refers to on its blog could be described, in other words, as the current system of non-discrimination in relation to the kinds of online content accessible for users.
“Net neutrality” is what many see as the gem of the internet; it is the great equaliser that puts your uncle’s blog about gardening shoulder to shoulder with giants like Amazon or Facebook.
The controversy surrounding the proposals by Google and Veziron centre on the fear that the companies would introduce a tiered system of website access – ultimately meaning that users would pay for the privilege of accessing their favourite sites quickly. By favouring some sites over others, online innovation and natural growth would be impeded – and that’s before accusations of censorship begin to crop up.
Both Google and Verizon deny that the proposal is meant to endanger net neutrality.
Regardless of the intentions of the two companies, the proposal is subject to approval by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) – the States’ communications watchdog – and also the US Congress.
The FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who it would seem is not enamoured by the companies’ proposal, has issued the following statement concerning the matter:
Some will claim this announcement moves the discussion forward. That’s one of its many problems. It is time to move a decision forward—a decision to reassert FCC authority over broadband telecommunications, to guarantee an open Internet now and forever, and to put the interests of consumers in front of the interests of giant corporations.
A RECENT survey has revealed that 29% of Irish people do not own a landline telephone, in contrast to just 4% of people who said they did not own a mobile phone.
The survey, was carried out by the Communications Regulation (ComReg).
Even though 60% of respondents had contacted the customer service department of their landline company with a problem, 90% still claim to be satisfied with the service received. The figure was similar for mobile phone users.
The survey also looked into computer use. It found that 80% of respondents now had a laptop or personal computer in their homes.
70% of computer users subscribed to an internet connection – 46% of these said they used a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) to connect.
Notable, the survey highlighted that 46% of internet users did not know what their download speed was.
Another area that respondents seemed to have little knowledge about related to television; even though 98% of people had a television, only a third knew about the proposed analogue TV switch-off due for 2012.
A REPORTED DEAL between Google and US telecommunications company Verizon has led to fears that the internet, as we know it, may soon become a thing of the past.
The partnership have been accused of being involved in talks about a new system for how internet traffic is carried over networks.
Fears have been raised that the plans, if true, could introduce a tiered system of bandwith access - meaning the end of a level playing field for internet users.
On Thursday, the New York Times said that the two companies “are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege”.
It added that this could “overthrow a once-sacred tenet of Internet policy known as net neutrality, in which no form of content is favoured over another”.
The news of such a deal has sparked worry across the web, prompting SaveTheInternet.com to launch a petition beseeching “Google: Don’t be Evil“.
Google denied the accusations outright on Friday, saying to The Guardian: “The New York Times is quite simply wrong. We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google traffic. We remain as committed as we always have been to an open internet.”
Verizon said: “Our goal is an internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC (the US Federal Communications Commission) authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect.”
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