Although I have blogged on the subject of Net Neutrality, I have not until March 2009, found a satisfactory workable definition. The subject has been largely avoided in the UK due to the pervailing respect for the principals of the internet. This is in spite of some recent advice given to UK civil sevants in Brussels that the internet could be treated like a Cable TV service for regulatory purposes. The US debate on Net Neutrality is still working its way through the mire of holding ISPs to promises on unlimited offers they cannot keep, and the nature of what are and what are not acceptable network management practices.
The Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (NPT) the Consumer Council and the ISPs have come up with the following set of principles. The principles balance the need to protect the benefits of an open internet with the reality of managing networks which need to be shared and need to be affordable. The Norwegian achieve this by putting the user at the centre of the service.
A summary of the principles are;
1.) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection with a predefined capacity and quality.
2.) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that enables them to
- send and receive content of their choice
- use services and run applications of their choice
- connect hardware and use software of their choice that do not
harm the network.
3.) Internet users are entitled to an Internet connection that is free of discrimination with regard to type of application, service or content or based on sender or receiver address.
The principles permit network management, but the user needs to be informed and in control of their bandwidth.