Net Neutrality :
The fundamental idea is equality of internet usage – if two users pay for the same level of internet usage, they should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access. What this means is that in 2011, telecom operators cannot
1. Bill extra for overages
2. Block content or create artificial network degradation
3. Poke and prod internet content of P2P, FTP and other kinds of applications ( games ) which maybe bandwidth intensive.
I use Comcast and when I upload large video files, everytime some network packet sniffer kicks in (#2 above ) and disconnects my uploads. Hopefully once this act is passed, I wont have to deal with this. If you want to read more, take a shot at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_neutrality.
With the advent of video communication over telecom and cell networks, this issue rears its ugly head again. The need for transparent handoff between different carriers becomes all the more relevant because of the current burgeoning need for more bandwidth ( imagine ATT Iphone users video chatting with T-Mobile 4G users ). Both ‘access charges’ and ‘reciprocal compensation’ models will be forced to change in the coming months. Though the number of players in the telecom market hasnt changed too much for the past 5 years ( where data traffic far exceeds voice traffic ) , it is the type of wireless data traffic that will throw the archaic FCC rules into a quandary.
Universal Service Reform
None of the large operators will ever fund the “broadbanding” of rural America unless it fills their coffers significantly. This act was introduced in 2009 and still fails to shake up the implementation plans of these carriers and I doubt it ever will. Try getting DSL in rural Indiana and then you will be told that you are too North, South, East or West or Nowhere of the nearest CO. In 2011, I think this will get a further push and hopefully some of operators will realize value in those locations.
New CALEA legislation
CALEA was first introduced in 1994 which would allow government authorities to request and receive phone and broadband wiretapping information from carriers when presented with a court order. In October 2010, a committee was formed to widen the reach of this law so as to include internet companies ( everything online in short ) .
If CALEA 2.0 is implemented, companies will need to design systems to read all kinds of internet traffic ( encrypted and otherwise ). Offshore traffic will have to be routed through these systems to allow “data-trapping”.
On the flip side, if Uncle Sam watches everything, I wonder if innovation could be inhibited. How different would the USA be from repressive regimes – but all of this is conjecture at this point. CALEA 2.0 will be a turning point.
Next generation 911
The NG9-1-1 project focuses on upgrading the 911 infrastructure to allow for new technologies like voice, video and data. We all know that at this point, we cannot ‘text’ 911 – all that would change if the new infrastructure is brought in place. IP-based voice service providers will have bump up again to incorporate NG911 on top of E911 services to be in compliance. To build advanced call handling facilities on top of such systems is easier as well. For example, 911 systems are inundated with call during emergencies of various kinds and overloaded call handling mechanisms can be incorporated in such scenarios.
Additional spectrum for wireless broadband
Broadcast TV service providers like NBC, CBS and ABC will get hit a bit by this new FCC move. I have saved several thousand dollars by enjoying HD free programming from these folks over the air and now the FCC will remove some of that spectrum and allot those to wireless service providers for mobile broadband. This has hit some TV stations and they will be asked to share some of the spectrum – I predict that eventually they will give way to the broadband wireless folks or maybe morph into them. Will allotting more bandwidth to the wireless providers improve service quality ? This remains to be seen in new year – pricing and service concerns will still abound – ATT leads the pack here. While the NACB was vehement in its opposition , the wireless industry was gung-ho about the announcement. 2011 will expose either side’s argument.
- MSNBC: FCC ‘net neutrality’ ruling shifts power to Internet providers (seattlepi.com)
- How Comcast and Huge Telecom Players’ Latest Gambit Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It (alternet.org)
- Broadband Regulations: Three Ways Federal Changes Are Likely to Impact IT (itexpertvoice.com)
- Network neutrality: A tangled web (economist.com)
- US regulators approve ‘net neutrality’ rules (thehimalayantimes.com)