More Reasonable Hill Thinking on Net Neutrality

April 26, 2010

At the recent Senate Health IT hearing, it was very good to hear Senator Wyden say that it’s “appropriate for Congress… to start thinking… about an HOV lane for e-care for wireless broadband” and questioning why an emergency healthcare service should not be accorded priority transmission over less important/urgent services.

  • This is a much more realistic, reasonable, and nuanced point-of-view than Senator Wyden’s original net neutrality stance a few years ago when he said that: “all bits are created equal” on the Internet.

Senator Wyden’s moderating view on net neutrality reflects a better and growing understanding of how essential reasonable network management is. Communications networks have long accorded priority to first responders in a crisis.

The essential needs for prioritization of Internet traffic and reasonable network management are basically two-fold:

  • First, just like any computer must have a program that schedules or puts different processing tasks in a priority queue in order to function and function with quality and reliability, the Internet at large is like a computer that needs the capability to prioritize and put different traffic in a priority queue so that all parts of the Internet can function with quality and reliability.
    • Urgent-emergency traffic comes before non urgent, real-time voice before non-real time, more quality-sensitive services before less quality-sensitive services, etc.
  • Second, the more people think about the issue of net neutrality the more it becomes obvious that all bits/info are not equal, but that bits have a natural and reasonable hierarchy of priorities to them.
    • For more detail on this natural hierarchy concept please see my thought-provoking post:
      • A Maslow “Hierarchy of Internet Needs?” — Will there be Internet priorities or a priority-less Internet?”  

This post today is notable because it shows that, as people learn more, and better understand the reality of competing priorities and services on the Internet, there is naturally more recognition of the essential need for reasonable network management of the Internet’s very different component networks, in order to make the overall Internet work the way we all expect and need it to work.

  • The Internet does not just magically run itself, it requires purposeful, professional, adaptable, innovative, and reasonable network management.

At core, as Senator Wyden is recognizing, Congress, not the FCC, sets National priorities… and Congress does not mandate there be no priorities…


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