Net Neutrality – Packet Discrimination

Many of us should know the feeling: you are at work and when browsing the internet you reach a message “Content is Blocked.” Welcome to packet discrimination. The future of internet information is under heavy scrutiny but not by techies or nerds. Politicians have been battling in courts and are drafting bills regarding how Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) should respect Net Neutrality. The information age has pretty much taken off uninhibited in the last 30 years and the next couple will determine how government plans to regulate it.

Net access has been simplified by lawmakers as either fixed line or wireless.  Plans are to give fixed-line ISP’s the ability to discriminate data based on pre-disclosed criteria to the FCC. There are no specific clues yet as to what that means, but our minds can only ponder that your favorite bittorrent sites will be on the chopping block. Wireless ISP’s are another story in that they will have even more unchecked ability to block data. More will be uncovered as the laws get written.

Google and Verizon stand on different sides of the technology market, but when Google announced a monster $4.6 billion bid in the 700 mhz spectrum auction, it was obvious that Google had intentions in the wireless market. Eventually this lost bid led to Verizon carrying Android phones. After a successful deployment, Google and Verizon are back at it with jointly proposed new concept in Net Neutrality, one subjected to even more debate.

If the information superhighway can be attributed to a freeway, the Verizon-Google Proposal wants to introduce an exclusive paid lane called “Additional Online Services.” This was among the other 9 points addressed in this proposal.

1.) Consumer Protection

  • Application or services based packet filtering should be prohibited. This extends to using different types of internet devices.

2.) Non-discrimination

  • All lawful content should be treated the same. Specific example is that ATT can’t block you from accessing Verizon’s website. Another example is that ISP’s can’t block your Netflix streams.

3.) Transparency

  • All packet management techniques and capabilities should be disclosed by all ISP’s. If an ISP is able to block your bittorrent downloads, it must be disclosed in plain English.

4.) Network Management

  • ISP’s are to be given reasonable flexibility to manage their networks as long as the methods are disclosed (Transparency). ISP’s may use pre-disclosed methods to reduce congestion and improve general service.

5.) Additional Online Services

  • Highly controversial line item that gives ISP’s the ability to create a closed network system. This closed network is likely to be a pay-to-play business move. Possibilities include making deals with all streaming websites, like Hulu and Netflix, to reside exclusively on this closed network so that consumers must pay extra to access these “Additional Online Services.”

6.) Wireless Broadband

  • Wireless internet ISP’s are to be exempt from all these proposed provisions because their networks are more intricate versus wired networks.

7.) Case-by-Case Enforcement

  • This provision places the FCC as the main authority and enforcer of rules with a maximum fine of $2,000,000 per violation.

8.) Regulatory Authority

  • The FCC is to have authority over access but not content. This means that the FCC can manage network packets and the passage of data, but it cannot exercise authority based on whether data is in video form or audio form or whatever.

9) Broadband Access for Americans

  • This means that the government can use allocated funds to improve internet networks.


You can access the full proposal here:


After all is said and done, it really looks as though the consumer is losing something no matter how this gets drafted. This is the beginning of the end of the free information age and big business may find yet another way to milk the consumer. In other news, ATT Uverse will begin to enforce data caps. The price of being connected just went up.








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JR Cajigas
JR Cajigas 113 posts

JR Cajigas is a foodie by day and...foodie by night. In between meals he is a tech writer and photographer. Yummers!