By now, most of us have heard about the Net neutrality proposal from Google and Verizon Wireless that would exempt wireless Internet and some broadband services from equal treatment on carrier networks, setting the stage for carriers to favor some services over others or charge more for specific services.
Google and Verizon say the proposal will make certain that most traffic is treated equally, more appropriately scale usage so that heavy users and heavy services don't crowd out the rest, as well as ensure sufficient income for further wireless broadband investment.
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The reaction to any restrictions on Internet traffic, wireless or not, set the blogosphere on fire and created a huge PR problem for Google and Verizon. To be fair, they are chasing their own interests. After all, Google is a huge provider of mobile OSes -- many of which run on the Verizon network -- and the two companies effectively created a common position around imposing control to drive additional revenue.
The concept of allowing specific networks, especially wireless networks, to restrict or prioritize some traffic is a huge threat to the success of cloud computing. If provider networks are allowed to control traffic, they could give priority to the larger cloud computing vendors who write them a big check for the privilege. At the same time, smaller cloud computing upstarts who can't afford the fee will have access to their offerings slowed noticeably, or perhaps not even allowed on the network at all.
Considering that most clouds are limited by bandwidth, the Google-Verizon proposal would have the effect of narrowing the playing field for cloud computing providers quickly. Businesses using pubic cloud computing will have fewer choices, and their costs will go up as these fees are passed onto cloud computing customers.
If what Google and Verizon are promoting becomes accepted as FCC policy or law, cloud computing will become more expensive, lower performing, and much less desirable. Moreover, the innovative aspect of cloud computing, which typically comes from very lean startups, is quickly removed from the market as the Internet toll roads go up.
It's bad for the Web, bad for users, and very bad for cloud computing. Let's work together to make sure that the Internet stays open and neutral.
This article, "The lowdown on Net neutrality and cloud computing," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.