Network neutrality

(Network) neutrality boils down — at present — to three flash-point issues involving network operators such as cable companies: whether they should be allowed to block certain rival services, such as Internet voice calls, from traveling over their networks; whether they will cut off their subscribers’ access to content that in some way competes with their own in-house programs; and whether they will cut deals to give some content and services priority delivery ahead of other offerings.

Network operators do have the tools to block content and services.

The easiest way to block applications such as voice-over-IP service is by turning off certain Internet Protocol ports on network servers and routers that feed consumers’ computers.

Content from specific providers or Web sites also can be blocked through a device that can inspect the contents of packets of information being shipped through a network.

Called a deep-packet inspection device, it can block traffic headed to any IP port on a network server, or it can block requests for Web site access based on a list of Web addresses the network operator supplies.

If the telcos and cablecos are allowed unfettered rights to do whatever they want with their piece of pipe, then the Net as we know it will cease to exist. Get involved in this fight now.

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