By Mika Skarp
Last week, news about tech giants Cisco and Apple teaming up to make iOS working better in mobile networks hit the headlines. While details of their precise plans were scant, it is fair to say that this may well have repercussions for Net Neutrality.
Trying to make the Internet work more effectively is everybody’s goal and it should be. The challenge is that the Internet must be an open ecosystem in order to keep costs down. Remember that the availability of affordable service is the central principle of Net Neutrality and the legislation that protects it. Traditionally, the open market has been achieved through standardization, however, this approach presents a lengthy process. In order to expedite development, companies like Apple and Cisco create different kinds of initiatives. What is new for Internet users and developers is that legislation will set regulatory frameworks regarding where and how these initiatives can operate. My how the the Internet has grown up!
The legislation in the USA as well as in Europe ensures that consumers be free to decide what kind of service they want to use. Therefore, under the law, no company can combine service and content. This is critical to enabling new services and new service providers to enter and challenge markets going forward. Furthermore, and following that logic, the requirement would extend to operating systems, and ensuring that none should receive any unfair advantages in our neutral networks. On the positive side, we could argue that every operating system should be able to access all variable parameters in the network. Therefore, it is left up to the operating system designers to decide whether to utilize certain features or not.
In the future, operating systems on devices will come to be considered a logical part of the network. The days of best effort networks are gone for good. Standardization processes are far too lengthy to solve problems that are popping up almost daily bases in the area of traffic management. The Internet load will continue to grow exponentially within the foreseeable future and new opportunities to utilize this load will pop up constantly, as new technologies come on line.
It's fair to say that the best way to solve traffic management challenges is to have a legal framework for Net Neutrality polices that is strictly enforced. It is in everybody’s best interest to keep the Internet open and neutral as we enter an era that will certainly have to grapple with and solve the challenge of fair and effective traffic management.