This story is a bit old by now but it’s a doozy. Essentially, what you see here is a presentation slide from Allot and the ironically-named Openet handed out at FierceWireless describing a potential wireless money-maker – tiered, fee-based access to web services on a subscriber basis. Want YouTube? That costs a few pennies per megabyte. Love you some Facebook? Five dollars a month, please! The upside, as they say, is endless!
Although no one is currently considering implementing these features, this has been a long-time dream for many carriers and is probably the first step in the slow erosion of user’s rights.
Here is the whole deck:
Allot and Openet use multiple methods to figure out what you’re looking at including “methods like heuristic analysis, behavioral and historical analysis, deep packet inspection, and a number of other techniques.”
What’s key is that we have the best application identification available on the market, which means that even applications that are encrypted or use other methods to evade detection will be correctly identified and classified… We essentially feed this real-time information about traffic and application usage into the policy and charging system. Each subscriber has a particular service plan that they sign up for, and they’re as generic or as personalized as the operator wants.
In short, this is the ultimate example for pro-net neutrality legislation. The entire service stinks to high heaven and the key words in that quote above (“as personalized as the operator wants”) personifies the problem with an anti-NN stance: once the operators decide what they want, you’re out in the cold. Maybe the operator doesn’t want to deal with Wikileaks – bam, no support. Maybe the operator wants to support Bing for commercial purposes – bang, no Google. It’s a slippery slope and we’re already at the top of the slide.
The problem with net neutrality is that it “feels” too hippy dippy, a movement led by noble activists who support freedom of speech, open bits, and all kinds of other nerd granola. This clouds the real issue: that carriers, operators, and backbones want to make more money out of something that essentially costs them nothing to carry. The infrastructure obviously needs support, but this is more about shareholders than supporting a free and untethered Internet. If we stay silent on this, the Internet will change.