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By Lisa Vaas  |  Posted 2007-08-10 Print this article Print

Second, policy makers "should consider methods for encouraging network investment and remove obstacles to get to the next wave of Internet evolution," Kowal said. And finally, regulators "should not inhibit [Internet growth]," he said.
Avoiding the words "differential pricing" or "Net neutrality," Kowal acknowledged that "this is a contentious issue for some, not all," and stressed that "experimentation is essential" to get to the next level of Internet evolution and services such as real-time video, which is extremely sensitive to delay and quality-of-service issues.
The New Millennium Research Councils advice echoes that given by Net neutrality critics, who call Net neutrality rules "a solution in search of a problem" and maintain that legislation would reduce incentives to upgrade networks or launch next-generation network services—such as real-time video. The fathers of the Internet have come down on opposing sides of this debate. Bob Kahn, co-inventor of the IP, has testified against Net neutrality legislation, calling the term "a slogan." "I am totally opposed to mandating that nothing interesting can happen inside the net," he is quoted as saying in a Register article to an audience at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., in January. Vint Cerf, on the other hand, sent a letter to a Congressional hearing in 2005 on Net neutrality, saying that "the remarkable social impact and economic success of the Internet is in many ways directly attributable to the architectural characteristics that were part of its design. The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new content or services. "My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet as we know it. Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online activity. Allowing broadband providers to segment their IP offerings and reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Many people will have little or no choice among broadband operators for the foreseeable future, implying that such operators will have the power to exercise a great deal of control over any applications placed on the network." Cerfs letter is printed in full on Googles official blog. Read more here about Cerfs position on Net neutrality. Meanwhile, in a June report, the Federal Trade Commission urged restraint with respect to the new regulations proposed by Net neutrality advocates, noting the "broadband industry is a relatively young and evolving one," and given no "significant market failure or demonstrated consumer harm from conduct by broadband providers," such regulations "may well have adverse effects on consumer welfare, despite the good intentions of their proponents." The Federal Communications Commission, for its part, is launching an inquiry to determine how broadband providers are behaving in terms of providing Internet access to subscribers. The Notice of Inquiry, announced at a March 22 commission meeting, is intended to seek comments on whether providers are restricting access to sites on the Internet, whether they are giving any sites favorable treatment and whether the companies charge extra for that, and how consumers are affected. Some say providers are already practicing hostility toward Net neutrality. Dan Kaminsky, IOActive director of penetration testing, wants those providers to know that people now can detect what theyre up to, thanks to something he stumbled upon when dissecting browser behavior for a DNS rebinding design flaw. Namely, hes come up with a detector that doesnt let a network know its being tested. "This is not something I thought Id ever say," Kaminsky said after demonstrating the technology at Black Hat Aug. 1. "But I believe a huge amount of the vibrancy of the Internet comes from commercial enterprise. If we go to a kingmaker model, nobody will be able to safely invest and all existing models will die on the vine. It doesnt matter if you create the best system. It doesnt matter if users really like you. Because someone else will show up and pay more than you will." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

Lisa Vaas is News Editor/Operations for and also serves as editor of the Database topic center. Since 1995, she has also been a Webcast news show anchorperson and a reporter covering the IT industry. She has focused on customer relationship management technology, IT salaries and careers, effects of the H1-B visa on the technology workforce, wireless technology, security, and, most recently, databases and the technologies that touch upon them. Her articles have appeared in eWEEK's print edition, on, and in the startup IT magazine PC Connection. Prior to becoming a journalist, Vaas experienced an array of eye-opening careers, including driving a cab in Boston, photographing cranky babies in shopping malls, selling cameras, typography and computer training. She stopped a hair short of finishing an M.A. in English at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. She earned a B.S. in Communications from Emerson College. She runs two open-mic reading series in Boston and currently keeps bees in her home in Mashpee, Mass.

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