Neutrality of Network and Discrimination of Protocol

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Neutrality of Network and Discrimination of Protocol Neutrality of Network and Discrimination of ProtocolNeutrality of Network and Discrimination of Protocol


23 November 2010

In an ideal Internet all packets would be taken as equal by the Internet Service Providers (ISP) and backbone operators who transfer them across cyberspace. But this is not always the case since many ISPs restrict or completely block Internet access to some services by discriminating against certain network protocols.
Some telecommunication companies, also offering Internet access, have been known to block the Voice-over-IP (VoIP) application Skype in their networks. The reason for this discrimination has in most cases been because the telecommunication providers take Skype as a competitor to their own telephony services. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing applications are also often blocked or bandwidth limited by ISPs.
Network Neutrality
The main principle of network neutrality (also known as "internet openness") appeals that users should be able to send and receive data across the Internet without having the traffic discriminated based on content, application, protocol, source or destination. An ISP who is restricting the bandwidth of one or several P2P protocols is thereby violating the network neutrality principle. The legal requirements for ISPs to comply with the network neutrality principle varies between countries. Nevertheless, from an ethical point of view it is clear that it must be the users, not the ISPs, who decide what protocols and applications should be used on the Internet. The network neutrality principle also protects the concept of an open Internet that allows for democratic communication.

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