Google Exposes, Cox Shapes

A new chapter in the war between content providers and ISPs for control over content distribution via the 'Net is taking place right before our eyes today. In a satisfyingly dramatic coincidence, Google is rolling out a tool to help users check if their ISP has been traffic-shaping or bandwidth-diddling in any way just as US Internet provider Cox openly announces that yes, they will be shaping traffic from now on. More to the point, they will be de-prioritizing bulk transfers (such as P2P and other file transfer protocols) and prioritizing "interactive" traffic such as media streaming, gaming and the Web .

Competitor Comcast got slapped with a lawsuit for pulling exactly this kind of stunt last year (but the trial is still ongoing).

It's hard to tell how the chips will fall - it mostly depends on the convoluted US legal system and the (dubious) capacity of US broadband users to pressure their ISPs into neutrality.

Putting aside the obvious questions such as "Why not just build in more bandwidth?", it's easy to predict, however, that the outcome of this battle will have implications for the whole of the Internet, not just the stars-and-stripes-coloured bits.


Author: Razvan Stoica

Thursday, January 29, 2009

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