Net Neutrality vs. The Tiered Service Model

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Difference between Net Neutrality and Tiered Service Model

The Internet has dealt us a number of benefits to be sure, but along with that comes a host of concerns to deal with and obstacles to surmount. For many people, making sense of all the bewildering jargon and techno-babble is one of the most difficult to overcome, and issues such as net neutrality and tiered service models certainly don’t make things any easier. If you have ever wondered what these two are but were always too afraid to ask, you have come to the right place!

Definition

Net neutrality aka network neutrality, is the term used to describe a system in which there are no government -or ISP- mandated restrictions with regard to the content, sites, platforms, equipment or modes of communication that user access.

As for the tiered service model, this phrase refers to a proposed Internet architecture in which telecommunications providers would divide traffic into different tiers. Under this system, sites that require more broadband–such as voice and streaming video sites for instance–which would be allotted higher speed tiers. ­

In Theory

The basic theory behind net neutrality is that Internet users should be able to control the content that they access, and have a choice in which applications they use to view that content. This theory goes back to the earliest days of the Internet and it basically works on the principle of equal access. Under this proposed system, broadband service providers will not be able to restrict content and applications from competing providers.

The tiered service model on the other hand allows providers to control how fast or how slow content from different sources is accessed. This system has been proposed as an alternative to net neutrality, and it will essentially give providers the right to charge higher fees for certain sites, and also charge competing providers a rate for granting them faster access.

Issues

The issues surrounding net neutrality and the tiered service model stem from the actions of several consumers’ rights groups and companies such as Google and eBay to urge Congress to pass laws that forbid ISPs from blocking, slowing down or otherwise controlling the speed and access to Internet content. Sadly, these issues haven’t been addressed adequately at the time of this writing in 2010, and many of the major providers claim that such moves would prevent them from providing quality network performance. On the other hand, those opposed to net neutrality propose tiered service model as a means by which providers can maintain a degree of control, while still providing fast and unrestricted access to their users.

Summary

Net Neutrality

  • A system in which there are no government- or ISP-mandated restrictions with regard to the content, sites, platforms, equipment or modes of communication that user access
  • Relies on the theory that Internet users should be able to control the content that they access, and have a choice in which applications they use to view that content
  • Major providers claim that this would prevent them from providing quality network performance

Tiered Service Model

  • A proposed Internet architecture in which telecommunications providers would divide traffic into different tiers
  • Sites that require more broadband would be allotted higher speed tiers
  • Allows providers to maintain a degree of control while still providing fast and unrestricted access to their users 

Which model works better for small business?
  • Net Neutrality
  • Tiered Service Model
 
 

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