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Why the net is up in arms

Why the net is up in arms

Google and Verizon have created shockwaves across the Internet with plans for what some have called the two-tier web. Here’s what’s happening, and why it matters to you.


August 16, 2010 4:38 by

The internet is always changing, whether that’s through technical innovation or simply growth. Given the rate of change and the vastness of the community it can be difficult for the organizations involved to agree on how that expansion should take place. And that’s the crux of the problem unfolding on the World Wide Web this month.

Google, the world’s biggest search engine and one of the most dominant players on the web, has been working with Verizon, the US’s biggest internet service provider (a telco) to propose a legal framework that would preserve net neutrality. Net neutrality means that all internet traffic – whether it’s a 13-year-old blogger or a giant like Youtube – gets the same priority on the internet. It’s a simple concept that upholds the ideals of almost every internet user.

But Google and Verizon are now under fire from internet users who say that in actual fact, the proposed framework has a huge and very deliberate loophole. Two loopholes, according to some. The rules would apply to all fixed line networks, but would not cover wireless internet. And that is a very big deal, because general consensus is that wireless will form the future basis of the majority of innovative services.

But why do you care?

Well, imagine that wireless does become the predominant way to access the internet. If widely adopted, the plans from Google and Verizon would mean that service providers could charge online publishers for access to higher speeds. This could mean that the products of the companies who pay more work faster than the products of companies that don’t. So, imagine Yahoo mail loading slower the G-mail, because Google had more cash, or because it had a deal with the telco (Verizon works with Google on its Android phones). Or perhaps Bing searches could take longer than Google searches. If you are a company with a web presence, you could end up with a slower site than your competitor. If you use a professional service online, your service of choice may work slower than a less preferred option.

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