According to the principle of Net Neutrality, the Internet Service Providers are required to treat all the data on the internet on an equal basis. This data can be in the form of messages, files, emails, audios or videos or by any means of information. The service providers cannot discriminate, block, slow down or charge on specific contents on the websites by any means or medium. Usually, the government imposes it. Net neutrality also helps the startups, organizations and new entrepreneurs to innovate and establish new companies. This lowers the barriers. The current laws restrict the service providers from censoring important contents from the internet. The simplest example could be a cable TV. If we need to add a channel to our current package, the service provider forces us to take a whole package or bundle of different channels along with the channel we need. The importance of net neutrality is the same. These laws favor the users from getting charged for the things that they don’t need.
Take Comcast for an example, they slowed down uploads from peer-to-peer-file sharing applications using fake packets until the Federal Communications Commission ordered them. In 2004, a charged of US $ 15,000 was made against The Madison River Communications Company by the Federal Communications Commission for restricting access of Vonage to their customers. AT&T limited the access to FaceTime to only those customers who paid for their data plans. Similarly, Verizon was caught for throttling videos on YouTube & Netflix on which they excused that according to the rules of net neutrality, network management practices were required to be made.
Most researchers suggest that to identify objectives that are related to the neutrality, some policy instruments are required. Just like the gas, electricity, and water services, some governments are now focusing to regulate the internet services having limited users with limited features and options.
Whereas, open network suggests that all the data should be available to all organizations, individuals etc. This can also be defined in such a way that in an open network the users are allowed to easily access the codes by which the program is run so that improvements could be made.
A closed internet on the other hand completely opposes this definition. Here, the use of the internet is restricted, access is limited &contents are filtered out. Even in some cases, few countries monitor & censor the use of the internet using the internet police.
Since the early 1990s, the concept of Dumb Networks exists, these dumb networks contain dumb pipes which can be resembled with the water pipes. The concept behind this is that these networks are not controlled nor regulated by any means. The data in these networks can be accessed by any person regardless of their identity or the use of the data.
Most of the experts debate on the usability and effectiveness of dumb pipes and a more intelligent network i.e. smart pipes being the analogs of open and closed networks. To support this debate, they have made the following models of the internet;
- Content Layer: Comprising entertainment (videos / music) & communication means.
- Applications Layer: Consists web browsing & e-mailing services.
- Logical Layer (Also termed as code layer): Contains different Internet protocols such as TCP/IP or HTTP.
- Physical Layer contains wired or wireless services.
Device Neutrality is, on the other hand, is an important concept for net neutrality. To freely use the internet, the users must have the freedom to choose the applications that they want to use. Only the non-interference of the service providers is ineffective.
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