Web content providers seem to be losing interest in network neutrality.
"Google Wants Its Own Fast Track on the Web" (Wall Street Journal) reports that Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are partnering with phone and cable companies to create fast lanes on the Internet for their own traffic. This goes against the principle of network neutrality that these companies and others had been supporting, which says that all Web sites and all traffic on the Internet should have equal access to available bandwidth. The counterargument being made by the phone and cable companies is that the content providers should help pay for their network costs. This would also enable companies that control distribution to favor their own content over competitors'.
The article also says that President-elect Obama plans to name as Lawrence Lessig head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Apparently Lessig is loosening his position on network neutrality, saying that content providers should be able to pay for faster service. He compares tiers of Internet service to tiers of postal service, where overnight delivery is available to those willing to pay extra.
"Ou: Google hypocritical on neutrality" (ZD Net) and "Google's OpenEdge Clouds Its Net Neutrality Stance" (Information Week) discuss some of the details and reactions.
As I discussed yesterday in Cell Phone Neutrality, it seems like our networks are becoming less neutral, not more so. Is this a good thing?
Update: WSJ: Google backtracks on Net neutrality; Google says WSJ doesn’t understand caching (ZD Net blog). Google says they're just caching data, not changing network neutrality.