Saving the Internet

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by David Nett,

from Clark Shpiell Productions,

How the Internet Works. In order to understand the Net Neutrality issue, you need to know a little about how the ‘net is organized. I’m not gonna lecture about servers and IPs and packets and the like. At the foundation of this issue are access and money, so we need to understand how access and money work on the ‘net now.

1) All internet traffic is treated equally. That is, if you send a piece of data over the internet (we’ll call that bit of data a “packet” — sorry, I lied to you earlier), whether you are a consumer or a huge media conglomerate, your packet has the same priority. When there are breaks in the network, or slowdowns, or stoppages, or huge open, fast flows, all packets are treated the same — none has explicit or implicit priority over the other. This is shown in diagram 1, where each player is identified, and the numbered arrows represent packets, all with equal priority (priority “3″ in diagram 1, for the sake of illustration — the number is unimportant, since all have the same priority). Every email you send has the same priority, once it hits the ‘net, as every song iTunes sells and every movie streamed from YouTube. All packets have the exact same priority so, in effect, no packets have priority.

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