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Cisco: We Can Help Block Net Pipes

Here's a frightening thought: Cisco and Alcatel are designing features into their routers to allow AT&T and other telcos to deny bandwidth to sites, or give those sites extra bandwidth or capabilities. The technology may be a good idea -- but what will the telcos do with it?
The National Journal reports that Cisco, Alcatel and others have authored white papers that "promote the technical capability to prioritize high-speed Internet traffic and offer tiered Internet service, depending upon the service or application."

Put into plainer English, it means that telcos would be able to block VoIP, let's say, or allow some Web sites to get maximum bandwidth, while pulling back on others.

This would easily allow AT&T and others to charge Google and other sites extra fees for adequate bandwidth. In fact, the Journal article says that Cisco's white paper implicitly acknowledges this is what the new Cisco hardware would be used for.

"Faced with increased costs for network capacity, new network management challenges, and declining ARPU, broadband service providers need to fundamentally change their business models," it says the paper reads.

I can't say that I really blame Cisco and Alcatel for this. They're only giving the market what it asks for, and if they don't do it, someone else will.

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