This isn’t an article claiming anything. It is primarily an attempt to open a discussion. It looks like Net Neutrality is going down in December. So I have a question. Is it possible to turn disaster into potential. First, what Net Neutrality is and how it might be ended by Internet Service Providers.
Net Neutrality works as a common carrier rule. That is all information sent on the Internet has to go through the same system following the same basic rules of transit. Think of snail mail. Every letter sent with a stamp moves to the central sorting point where it is put in different bins without consideration. Each bin is then taken to a central point using the same vehicles and is redistributed again without consideration. Each letter then sent from the same zip code to the same zip code has essentially the same chance of reaching a destination at a particular time. So why is this important? Well consider your store is having a sale. Store 1 and Store 2 are in direct competition. Store 1 pays the post office extra money to give priority to their flyers so that they reach customers three days before the Sale date while Store 2 reaches customers a day after the sale date. Store 1 has an unfair advantage.
Now the Internet is a little bit different but also kind of the same. The Internet works on the concept of packet switching. When the data enters the local ISP it breaks it down into packets. It is sent to tier 2, then tier 3, then back to tier 2 and then reassembled within the tier 1 ecosystems. Right now each packet is equal. What would happen if you take away Net Neutrality is that local ISPs will be able to prioritize information from and to certain addresses. This is actually much more dramatic than it seems because your information has to wait for all pieces to be reassembled. So it is not only one piece of delayed information, like with letters, but different pieces of information. To understand this you have to understand probably the most important physical break through for the Internet. The packets move through the different servers using what can best be described as a traffic cop system. One packet will wait while another packet moves through. The waiting is based on when it arrives at the particular server (different packets go to different servers). What ending Net Neutrality does is it gives the Tier 3 ISPs the ability to tag each packet, high priority, medium priority, low priority (I think there will actually be a number of levels). So a low priority packet will have to cede to a higher priority packet and probably wait for a time when there are no higher priority packets. Depending on the type and volume of information this can be devastating, more so because even if a number of packets make it through it must wait for all of them. So some information may have to wait until off hours to make its way through with any speed. This is an enormous amount of power to give to Tier 3 ISPs. Anybody who think it will not be used for nefarious purposes is being foolish. Most people will be able to download Kock backed publication in seconds while they may have to wait minutes for more for DailyKos unless it is one in the morning or something. Think about how frustrated and impatient you become waiting half a minute for called information to download.
So now here is ny question. Tier 3 ISPs don’t really own Tier 2, at least not all of them, and definitely not many Tier 1, many of which are international but have a global reach. The local ISPs own the last mile, the cable to your home, but there is definitely new types of technology where the last mile is not dependent on laid table. It can draw information from Tier 2 through waves, just as fast as cable (or with investment it soon will be). It bypasses Tier 3. Is it possible to start setting up sort of information communes that buy information on their own off of Tier 2 at basically the same rate as ISPs (it really isn’t that expensive) and then use the new technology to locally distribute the information. There would be no chance to tag specific addresses and it would move through Tier 2 and 1 at the same basic rate. If it caught on it would also take a big chunk out of Telecoms. Does anybody know if this is possible?