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Verizon's Half-Truths About Net Neutrality

Yesterday, Verizon warned financial service companies that they may not receive Internet connections with the necessary service quality if the government implements Network Neutrality legislation. Pundits have taken this to be a dire warning. Watch out. Evil Verizon is out...

Yesterday, Verizon warned financial service companies that they may not receive Internet connections with the necessary service quality if the government implements Network Neutrality legislation. Pundits have taken this to be a dire warning. Watch out. Evil Verizon is out to get you! Think McCarthy and the Communists. Nixon and those liberals. You get the idea. But a closer reading of the Reuters story shows that Verizon simply stated the facts as they stand. If companies will not pay for higher quality service then they shouldn't expect to receive higher quality links.

More specifically, Verizon's chief congressional lobbyist Peter Davidson was reported to have warned that the financial services industry "better not start moaning in the future about a lack of sophisticated data links they need" if Net neutrality laws were passed. In such a case, the communications industry may not invest in new networks.

Davidson's got it half-right. Service providers should be able to charge more for better connections. It's the only way you and I are ever going to see VoIP connections that work well all the time. But service providers should also the same equipment needed to deliver those "sophisticated data links" to prove that they're not sabotaging slower links in order to force customers to upgrade to higher speed connections. This calls for providing a clear definition of "best effort" Internet service through a Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Deriving such an SLA is straightforward. Service providers should first divide the bandwidth equally among subscribers into individual widows and then prioritize those windows of traffic accordingly, provided none of the windows violate the base SLA. Such as SLA should contain delay, jitter and round trip time metrics averaged for each link. Network performance should be monitored by third-party tools available to carriers and users, such as those provided by ASPs such as Keynote or John Quarterman's InternetPerils or through tools provided by companies such as Caspian Networks .

It's quid pro quo. Service providers give a little to get a new revenue stream in return. Call it Net Neutrality 2.0. Call it the right thing to do.

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