The minutiae of network topology and infrastructure are not traditional topics for comedians; seeing them discussed on late-night TV proves that the debate over network neutrality has truly made it into the mainstream. This is perhaps not surprising, thanks to some truly alarmist headlines, but also to the sheer importance of the Internet to modern life. Anything that could cause the “death of the Internet” surely concerns us all, doesn’t it?
But the network neutrality debate is a muddy one at best, with different people using the term in different ways. Regulatory enforcement of the idea would at best prove inadequate to achieve what people want. At worst, it might even prove harmful to innovation and progress, potentially outlawing existing widespread and harmless practices.
In addition, the current fixation on network neutrality happens to work to the advantage of the large incumbent Internet Service Providers (ISPs). While they may oppose network neutrality regulations (or, indeed, any legislative or regulatory limitations on their business at all), so long as the debate centers around network neutrality, the largest ISPs can be confident that nothing will challenge their dominant market positions.
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