eBay tested the utility of their applications directly with consumers via the open
Internet without first paying significant costs for transmission or negotiating
with network operators. These applications resulted in huge market success,
consumer benefit, and encouraged further innovation in Internet services.
Now, however, network operators can, if they choose, manage networks to
promote certain websites, services, and applications, while blocking or slowing
others. They may seek to prioritize their own
services and slow the transmission of competing
traffic or attempt to increase profits by charging
individual and institutional users based on the
content and services they use. ISPs may not charge
users directly to view websites but rather charge service and content providers
for access to end users of the Internet. These providers will then pass those costs
along to end users in the form of price hikes or new charges to view content.
The codification of net neutrality principles will ensure that network operators,
which offer Internet access directly to the general public, do not engage in
discriminatory practices that inflate prices and stifle innovation on the Internet.
The goal of net neutrality is to ensure that citizens have a public platform to
interact; thus, it makes sense that net neutrality rules apply to network operators
that provide broadband Internet access directly to the general public. In contrast,
operators of “private networks”—such as university networks, libraries, coffee
shops, and retail establishments—should not be subject to such rules because
they do not provide Internet access to the public at large. Private network
operators manage closed networks designed to serve the particular interests of
their patrons. The FCC has long held that operators of private networks shall
not be subject to the same regulations as commercial ISPs, and there is no
indication that the FCC believes it is necessary to apply net neutrality to
principles to entities other than commercial providers that offer broadband
Internet access to the general public.1
The Cost of Success: How Developments
in Internet Technology Created the Current
Threat to Net Neutrality
A primary reason why net neutrality has become an issue in recent years results
from technological changes in the delivery of Internet services. During the days
of dial-up service, providers were subject to certain “common carrier”
RLI 273
10
The Importance of Net Neutrality to Research Libraries in the Digital Age
(
C O N T I N U E D
)
DECEMBER 2010 RESEARCH LIBRARY ISSUES: A BIMONTHLY REPORT FROM ARL, CNI, AND SPARC
Net neutrality was a founding principle
of the Internet’s original architecture.
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