Friday, March 10, 2006

Everything Old is New Again

Mr. Blog writes on "Net Neutrality, 1996", with his thesis being that 10 years ago, the Internet took off due to the ubiquity of dialup access; the telco raked in significant money by providing dumb transport (second phone lines) with no knowledge of or control over the content (V.34, anyone?). "Neutrality" at its finest.

I'd extend this thesis to say that the Internet took off due to the ubiquity of flat-rate dialing for dialup internet access. In the rest of the world, where metered usage was far more prevalent than in the US, the widespread use of the Internet grew a lot more slowly.

Now if anyone thinks back to those bucolic days of yesteryear, they may remember constant rumors called the "modem tax". The rumor was that telcos would monitor the phone conversations for modem traffic, and charge modem calls differently than voice calls -- charging per-minute or capping the minutes that could be used on the flat rate line.

Substitute "perform deep packet inspection" for "monitor the phone conversations for modem traffic", "guaranteed QOS" for "modem calls", "charging based on QOS" for "charging per-minute", "capping the downloads" for "capping the minutes", and "broadband access" for "flat rate line", and that paragraph could have been written about the current situation. Except then, the telcos universally denied any intention to take such action. Now, they're advocating it.