In this post I will be discussing the subject of Net Neutrality and why it is important to you and me as consumers of major communication networks such as the internet and phone lines. Net Neutrality started off way back in the 50s when AT&T was dominating the phone line network. There was little competition and therefore they virtually controlled the major network. There was however, something going on within this new form of communication.
There was small company who developed a piece of hardware that allowed people to take phone calls privately without anyone listening, because back in those days the telephone devices could be heard at a public level so many people were concerned with their privacy. This piece of hardware that helped take private calls was known as the ‘Hush-A-Phone’ which was developed by ‘The Hush-A-Phone’ company. The piece of hardware attached to the end piece of a regular telephone. The hardware sold well and AT&T were not happy because it ‘infringed’ on their telephone hardware. Back then, the phone network was seen as ‘natural monopoly’ and therefore AT&T took ‘Hush-A-Phone’ to court because not only did they own the majority of the phone network, but they also provided their customers with the telephone equipment. Luckily, over many court appearances ‘Hush-A-Phone’ won the case and the users were able to attach the hardware to their telephone devices thanks to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the use of AT&Ts phone lines and telephone equipment. Just because they owned the telephone equipment didn’t mean that they could impose on the equipment. From this point on there was increased regulation on the telephone network system. Eventually, in 1984 AT&T was dismantled by the US government as it was foreseen as a public service. From then on, other hardware equipments were able to access the telephone network cables. For example, the very early 56K modems that attached to the phone lines. As time went on and hit into the millennium, the idea had evolved so much ‘Net Neutrality’ was born.
Now lets talk about the network of the internet, the internet was developed back in 1969 by an military agency known as ‘ARPANET’ (The advanced Research Project Agency Network’). Back then the internet was used for military and academic researches over a small area in the states. Acoustic couplers were used to communicate between computers.
Bulletin Board System
In the early 70s, slot machines and other computer machines were used access terminals, leave messages and host files such as video games; even email existed around this time (1971). This was known as the Bulletin Board System (BBS).
There were lots of nodes communication like the internet, sharing games, data etc. A distributed system. it had FTP, chat rooms, forums. used for unservailed bit torrent.
World Wide Web
Tim burns Lee who is a British Computer Scientist, invented the World Wide Web back in 1991. The World Wide Web is a visual and interactive layer over the Internet that includes a GUI which consists of Web pages that can contain multimedia components such as text, images, videos, as well as web navigation features such as hyperlinks. When the World Wide Web was born, there was a demand for Web browser and thus in 1993, the Mosaic Browser was born.
Netscape Web Browser (1994-1999)
Internet Explorer Vs Netscape
Over the success of Netscape in the 90s many people were browsing the web using this technology. Many businesses had Netscape pre-installed on many Windows-based computer systems because it was seen as a great investment at the time. Microsoft saw the potential of the web through the technologies of Netscape and therefore insisted if the small retail companies carried on selling Netscape pre-installed on Windows then they would withdraw their software from their computer systems. Microsoft later tried to negotiate with Netscape to sign a contract where they had to hand over the technologies of the popular web browser and in return they would receive a million dollar payout. The other option was that Microsoft would take them on by making their own web browser which would be built into every version of Windows. Netscape refused the deal and was later crushed by the booming market share of the infamous web browser ‘Internet Explorer’. Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft was later taken to court over the monopoly game that they had played on Netscape. Microsoft by then, was a booming multi-billion software cooperation. Microsoft was later dismantled by the US government and was split up into separate parts in 1998. You can view the deposition here. Now that Netscape had been beaten by the market share of Internet Explorer, Netscape released their code of the web browser to open source the project. AOL bought them and later Firefox was born out of the open source code of Netscape. Firefox is part of the Mozzila family which was formally known as Moziac (The original creators of the Mosaic Web Browser).
You see, what we have here is large cooperations that try to monopolise a system, be it a major form of network or software choice for the consumer. Everyone has the right to have a choice. Well, in todays age the ‘Net Neutrality’ subject is still very much alive. In fact, just in the last few months the FCC has established some new rules that regulate the use of the internet as a ‘public service’. Large companies such as Comcast and Verizon are taking the idea of ‘Net Neutrality’ to court after saying this ideology is choking their stream of revenue that could be increased to so much more. They argue services like ‘Netflix’ take up much more bandwidth than any other web service (30% at peak times) and in turn they should be charged for using more data.
Comcast, Verizon and even some major ISPs in the UK have been scrutinising the use of some internet services; services like BitTorrent have been throttled over the years due to their large numbers in internet traffic. If these major ISPs win the case in court then the internet would have to be regulated under certain rules; customers, or users like you and I would have to PAY money to access certain internet services over the web. This would literally ruin the internet as we know it. No-one owns the internet and therefore it should not be controlled by any regulations. The internet is FREE to access and is the only tool in the world that isn’t controlled by major governments or cooperations.
If you would like to set up a website on the internet you do not need to gain permission, you as an individual have the right to publish content to the ever growing web space. If cooperations like Comcast won the right to control the internet, then we would have a very different view of how we’d use the internet; first off, the internet would be split into two lanes, the fast lane (high paying customers) and the slow lane (low paying customers). The high paying customers would see a much different view of the internet and the web content with its rich multimedia elements. This is so wrong, and it would probably wipe out small businesses on the web. Sure, you’ll still have Facebook, Youtube and all the other major players- but thats it. No innovation, no forward thinking, because they would be scrutinised straight away into the slow lanes. Pretty much what we have seen today much in the West side of the world where these big players including supermarkets have wiped out the small, independent businesses because have become too greedy.
Here are some links that you might find interesting: