Net Neutrality In The Internet

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The Internet is one of the most powerful tools of the modern age as source of knowledge, entertainment and wealth generation. While a large majority of the population has no understanding of how the Internet actually works and how the content arrives at their computer they understand its importance. Scholars, lawyers, lawmakers and advocacy groups have began to worry about who has control of the Internet's content and its distribution.

Net neutrality is the idea that Internet service providers or ISP's should not discriminate against information being sent over the Internet and must treat all data packets equally regardless of source, type or content. The danger of an Internet without network neutrality is that Internet service providers would
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These routers receive data from individuals or servers sort and redistribute it appropriately. When demand is relatively low the routers have no problem organizing and distributing this data. The issue arises when the data becomes overwhelming to the router and the router must start a queuing system much like the line at a checkout counter. This queuing system is where the issue of net neutrality stems (Felten, 2005) (Wu, 2005).

Those in favor of Net Neutrality believe that the packet should be distributed in a first-in first-out basis. This system treats all packets of data, equally regardless of content, source, or size. This is also known as a “best effort” network because a network makes its best effort to deliver packets as quickly as possible in order they are received. (, 2009)

The worry is that packets will be reordered or dropped based on the decisions of these internet service providers. The FCC has filed a motion to stop Comcast from setting its routers to slow down the transfer of packets from peer-to-peer programs of its
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The FCC acted on a complaint filed by Vonage, a VoIP telephone company. Prior to the FCC to taking Madison River to court they settled because Madison River agreed to stop blocking voice over IP calls and pay $15,000 to the US Treasury (Wu, 2005)(CNET, 2005). The Madison River case because it was settled out of court did not set a precedent for net neutrality, but it did show the FCC was willing to enforce its policies (Wikipedia, 2009).

In August of 2008 the FCC voted to uphold a complaint against Comcast, ruling that it even legally inhibiting users from using bit torrent at peer-to-peer filesharing software. Similar in nature to the Madison River case, the FCC did not penalize Comcast, but requested that they stop such practices (, 2009). The FCC Chairman said,

“The order was meant to set a precedent that Internet providers and indeed all communications companies could not prevent customers from using their networks and the way they see fit, unless there's good reason (Wikipedia,

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