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US regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has decided to mandate ‘network neutrality’.
While it has no power here in the UK, its approach will probably influence decision-makers here.
There are many different definitions of Network Neutrality. A simple definition would be that ‘a network must be a passive conduit of traffic.’
In other words:
On the face of it, this sounds great, but when you consider some of the implications it quickly turns sour.
This simple approach to Network Neutrality would be crazy:
The FCC has been talking to interested parties and has inserted several sensible caveats to the network 'neutrality requirement'.
Update: This article was originally published in 2011. Since then the European Commission mandated Network Neutrality within the EU, from late 2016. The EC, like the US Federal Communications Commission five years before it, opted against mandating simple network neutrality.
Tech activists are up in arms - they don't think the regulations go far enough. Internet Service Providers are also up in arms - they think the regulations are too prescriptive and impractical. So, neutrality of a sort has been achieved.
A cynic might ask how many senior network engineers working at european Internet service providers are ever likely to read Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and the 'BEREC Guidelines on the Implementation by National Regulators of European Net Neutrality Rules.' No doubt all of them.
In 2015, towards the end of President Obama's final term, the FCC changed it's view on network neutrality. In 2017, under President Trump, the FCC changed its position.