Some historical observations about Network Neutrality

Gus Hurwitz —  23 September 2013

I have a new post up at TechPolicyDaily that takes a historical perspective on Network Neutrality. The abstract is below. I had to cut a bunch out of the piece — I hope to add a bunch of the cut parts back in and post an extended version here later this week. But for now:

Network Neutrality debates are fundamentally about switching – whether network switches can treat some packets differently from others. In this piece, I look back 100 years to the telephone interconnection debates of the early 20th century – and, in particular, to AT&T’s preference for (non-neutral) manual switchboards over (neutral) automatic switches. This history reminds us that design decisions in complex networks are rarely as simple as network neutrality proponents suggest they are – and that market forces, if given time to operate, can secure the consumer benefits that regulators aspire to promote without the appurtenant risk that regulatory intervention may stunt the market.

Read the full thing here.