The raucous on net neutrality is so mainstream that AIB is making videos about it, so it’s usually prudent to take other side of that. But jokes apart, I am trying to put forward my points related to net neutrality here. A disclaimer is certainly due – I work for a company, whose products and services prima facie may appear to be designed against net neutrality and hence one is likely to confuse that my stand is justification of my employment. I will leave it to him to decide whether it is so.
Net neutrality as activists see it and why it is wrong.
First let’s understand the argument of net-neutrality what it means – Most of the champions of net-neutrality would say – every packet on the network should be treated equally, that’s how Internet was designed to work. That statement is absolutely incorrect. Internet was designed as a best effort service – it means every intermediate device would try it’s best to forward a given packet. IP protocol inherently allows for a differential treatment for different packets and that has been around for 20 years atleast (read DiffServ Code Points) and it is implemented in many routers deployed already. So ‘net neutrality’ is inherent in the design of web (that’s how people understand as Internet) is a totally flawed notion. Another point is – you don’t charge differently for using an IPhone Vs Toaster. The reason for that is it’s very ‘hard’ today to attribute an energy usage to a device. If the Internet of Things would indeed be a reality and if an appliance can accurately determine it’s energy usage and send it to a ‘cloud server’, I wouldn’t be too surprised if some company starts selling fridges where they underwrite your energy bill for a year. I would certainly be keen on the view of the champions of “Net-Neutrality” on that (if I were to make a prediction – I can bet many of them would be writing long essays about the art of possibilities with new technologies). They say – the roads are used by everyone and everyone gets a fair treatment their. I believe they forget on atleast sufficiently well designed highways – there are separate lanes for different type of vehicles.
My very personal take on net neutrality is as far as possible – there should not be a preferential treatment to some traffic as opposed to some other traffic, that is – if I were to run an ISP or a Telco, this is what I would try to do, because I believe – reasonably fair systems improve overall efficiency. But I stop just at that. How a Telco today wants to do their business is their prerogative and they are absolutely free to prefer a traffic over another traffic, it’s their choice (not a very wise one I should say – but still I would support their decision to do so). An important aspect of that is – me as a consumer should know – what agreements you have with third parties – if the service you deliver to me can potentially be affected (even if it is not directly affected at the moment) due to your agreements, in a manner easily readable to a person of average intelligence (average here implies mean and not a median, for I believe the tail on one side is ‘rather heavy’ :)).
Coming back to the main headlines – Internet.org and Airtel Zero.
It’s a no brainer that Internet.org is a stealth mode promotion of Facebook in the name of making world more open, but to me that’s fine. For as a businessman Mark Zuckerberg is trying to maximise the value for his stakeholders (and if I were an FB stock owner – I would love that in a very short term, the long term implications are not understood, but generally anything long term is not understood at all). Most of the sites that are ‘opting out of Internet.org’ are doing so because a) they don’t understand or b) they want to score some brownie points by appearing to be more open (a totally a la bollywood promotion), again perfectly fine with me if it’s b) but not if it’s a) that is if I were a stake holder in those companies. For a) means they are totally clueless about what really is happening and they are just trying to take a position today and change to another depending upon how the current is flowing. If they were indeed pro-neutrality and believed that Internet.org was against – why did they join in the first place? What I still dislike about this whole nonsense is the vehement argument against Internet.org and especially associated fear mongering that Internet.org would mean that the under-priviledged would end up thinking Internet is just Internet.org and are likely to be exploited eventually. A totally baseless argument – based primarily in fear. It would hurt the cause of startups they claim. In the very short term – may be, but over sufficiently long period of time – it’s the value that the startup provides matters – more than whether the startup got perceived unfair treatment from carrier (and if you ask me for a startup of decent scale – getting a reasonably fair treatment using CDNs is already commoditized). Let me elaborate – why this argument is based only in fear and nothing else. Let’s take a hypothetical example that a couple of car companies decide to underwrite all the tolls that their customers pay on highways (such a system is not very hard to implement by the way), would it mean that everybody will dump other cars and start using only cars made by only those two companies? I don’t think so – because individual preferences are different and people will choose products and services that suit their preferences the most. Mind you from a different vantage point, it might appear that those companies are favoured by the toll collectors and derive a preferential treatment. So while a side says that Internet.org is not against and side b says Internet.org is against – the reality is somewhere in between, and if due to the fact that there would be ‘inefficiencies that develop’ to me that’s an opportunity for innovation and a new start up, so nothing to fear about. Generally people are smart enough to figure out what’s most economical (more bang for the buck) and we should leave it to their judgement and let the forces of market work.
The case of Airtel Zero and Flipkart opting out of it is somewhat serious. First, it looks like a case of mob lynching. In a society where the law and order is totally dysfunctional mob lynching may be acceptable, but in this particular case I don’t think it’s justified. What’s really disappointing is Flipkart opting out of AirtelZero because people started rating their app unfavourably, if they knew they were doing right – they should stick to their point of view and not ‘react’ prematurely. But may be again the same applies a) They are clueless or b) There’s something inherently wrong they believed they were doing and hence reacted on it. Again something to worry about for their investors but not their consumers and app users. Actually, there’s indeed a very severe problem with AirtelZero which appears to me based on very little informatin I have about it. Airtel offered a zero charge on Apps that used Airtel’s Network API. From what I understand – to me Network API – in layman’s words means selling data about your activity on Network (eg. your location – trivial for a network to know which all places you have been, even if you switch it off on your phone). So this looks like the case of ‘privacy breach and not net neutrality’. Again – nobody understood it and just started acting – based on fears – spread by the “experts”. This issue needs a different discussion and should be considered separately.
The TRAI consultation Paper
The whole net neutrality debate started with the TRAI consultation paper about net neutrality. I haven’t read the paper completely, but have gone through some of the questions and it appears based on the questions that TRAI does not appear to be working as a regulator responsible for protecting interests of the consumers but acting more like an agent of Telcos and OTT players (I was tempted to use a rather derogatory four letter word starting with ‘p’, but avoided it.) So yes the consultation paper needs a proper debate and the activists should indeed be furthering the cause that – TRAI acts as a regulator first.
So what’s the road ahead
If net neutrality is to be implemented – there should be a law enacted properly and anyone starting a business should be aware of the existing laws under which one is going to start a business (that of an ISP, Telco or a web-foo startup). Personally I would be against such law as I believe such a law is largely socialist – but I already live with many other socialist laws that exist, so I would just add this as an additional cost. But if such a law were to be enacted – we have to re-issue the 3G spectrum (if the need be so) for the licenses were offered when such a law didn’t exist. Otherwise this becomes a case similar to retrospective taxation and would certainly peeve investors off.
One should make – best efforts in understanding the ecosystem that we are using and shouldn’t be swayed by certain ‘activists’ who have a very loud noise. Also – let’s accept Internet is no longer an academic network, but has become a commercial network and businesses would find out ways to squeeze more value out of it. The Internet succeeded because – there were few businesses who tried to monopolize the voice networks and an open Internet offered an opportunity for entrepreneurs to exploit the inefficiencies that were thus developed. If Internet becomes what voice networks were a few decades away a new network paradigm would come and usher a new wave of innovations – and create new winners – so nothing to worry about. Atleast in India – there are bigger problems to worry than whether the net access is neutral or not – so we have a bigger fish to fry already and remember – over a sufficiently long period of time a society figures out most economic ways of doing things, that has been essence of our civilization (debatable whether for right or wrong reasons).
Note: Largely these ideas are mine – but some of them were refined or corrected based on my discussion with a friend of mine Siddharth.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged about something. Most of my bandwidth allocated to ‘compulsive urge to share something’ was hogged by Facebook. However, from being a ‘nice tool to stay in touch with people I know’, Facebook is becoming “I really don’t care if your dog is sneezing” kind of updates or something equally bizarre. I am amazed how annoyed my ‘Friends’ would be to read about every bizarre thought that comes to my mind, when they care little about those. I am sure many of them do.
So finally I have decided to enter Facebook in the read only mode and eventually say ‘thank you very much’. I am not so much concerned about ‘privacy’ and what all ‘information’ facebook may know about me’, but more about how not to spend time ‘commenting on’, ‘liking’ and ‘sharing’ etc. if someone’s dog sneezed.
Hopefully, I’d have something meaningful to share in the coming days (over here) and yes I am containing my compulsive urge to share this post by _NOT_ trying to share on FB. If this gets ‘somehow shared’, trust me, I din’t intend to.
Big Brother is Watching you!! 🙂 Originally from Mayur.
Nandan M Nilekani is appointed as head of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIAI),
Nandan Nilekani can do it…..Fully integrated ID card system
Operator : “Thank you for calling Pizza Hut . May I have your…”
Customer: “Heloo, can I order..”
Operator : “Can I have your multi purpose ID card number first, Sir?”
Customer: “It’s eh…,
Operator : “OK… you’re… Mr Singh and you’re calling from 17 Jal Vayu.
Your home number is 22678893, your office 25076666 and your mobile is
09869798888. Which number are you calling from now Sir?”
Customer: “Home! How did you get all my phone numbers?
Operator : “We are connected to the system Sir”
Customer: “May I order your Seafood Pizza…”
Operator : “That’s not a good idea Sir”
Customer: “How come?”
Operator : “According to your medical records, you have high blood pressure
and even higher cholesterol level Sir”
Customer: “What?… What do you recommend then?”
Operator : “Try our Low Fat Pizza. You’ll like it”
Customer: “How do you know for sure?”
Operator : “You borrowed a book entitled “Popular Dishes” from the
National Library last week Sir”
Customer: “OK I give up… Give me three family size ones then, how much
will that cost?”
Operator : “That should be enough for your family of 05, Sir. The total
is Rs 500.00”
Customer: “Can I pay by! credit card?”
Operator : “I’m afraid you have to pay us cash, Sir. Your credit card is
over the limit and you owe your bank Rs 23,000.75 since October last year.
That’s not including the late payment charges on your housing loan, Sir.”
Customer: “I guess I have to run to the neighbourhood ATM and withdraw
some cash before your guy arrives”
Operator : “You can’t Sir. Based on the records, you’ve reached your daily
limit on machine withdrawal today”
Customer: “Never mind just send the pizzas, I’ll have the cash ready. How
long is it gonna take anyway?”
Operator : “About 45 minutes Sir, but if you can’t wait you can always come
and collect it on your Nano Car…”
Customer: ” What!”
Operator : “According to the details in system ,you own a Nano
car,…registration number GZ-05-AB-1107..”
Customer: ” ????”
Operator : “Is there anything else Sir?”
Customer: “Nothing… by the way… aren’t you giving me that 3 free
bottles of cola as advertised?”
Operator : “We normally would Sir, but based on your records you’re also
Operator : “Better watch your language Sir. Remember on 15th July 2010
you were convicted of using abusive language on a policeman…?”
is because gavasakar, tendulkar, bahulkar,.. confused that is because
sitting in southern part of India they would ask the other person “are
you from Maharashtra or from south India..?” and genuinely wonder why the other person takes some time to answer the question. They like the
principles of pheejix and their favourite character in the alphabet is Zay
(god knows where that came from). Although soft, peace loving people but they elect the shivsena n MNS to rule them.
They are lucky enough to get Chai sutta at 2 am in the morning and a place to sit and enjoy that (without being Sons and/or Daughters of a cop!). Also, they’ve cleverly adopted a script that lets them write ‘ऑक्टोबर’ and ‘उर्ध्र्वमूलम् अधःशाखम्’ without resorting to perverted localizations. and they say ‘t’ for a ‘t’ and not th’ for they’ve separate letters!! And they enjoy a temperate weather and adequate water supply for most part of the years that lets them enjoy the world in a much more meaningful ways, which I am afraid a lot of ‘South Indians’ are not lucky enough! And yes they don’t have to take pride in ‘knowing English’ as there are many other things that they can be proud of!!
A forward from a friend, Harish
“The triumph of human kind is a very recent development. Ten thousand years ago we were just another animal trying to make a go of it on planet earth. Humans – and all their livestock – were barely 1% of the vertebrate biomass on the planet. Now, they are 98% of it.” Hmmm…1 to 98. What a spectacular success story. A 5,000% increase. Hey wait a minute…that’s a bubble! Yes, dear reader, humans are a sell. How is that 🙂
After recent ruccous in Maharashtra Vidhansabha, I wrote to MNS on their website. What I was pleasantly surprised was by the fact that they actually replied to the post (implying having read what I posted). I certainly appreciate this fact. Below is my letter and reply from MNS.
संकेतस्थळाला भेट दिल्याबद्दल आणि संपर्काबद्दल / प्रतिक्रियेबद्दल धन्यवाद.काही तांत्रीक अडचणीमूळे उत्तर देण्यास उशीर होत आहे.त्याबद्दल क्षमस्व.
आपल्यासारख्या पाठिंबा देणा-या व्यक्तींमुळेच पक्षाची व महाराष्ट्राची ताकद वाढली आहे.
विधानसभा निवडणुकीत तुमच्यासारख्या पाठीराख्यांच्या बळावरच पक्षाला एवढ्या मोठ्या प्रमाणावर मते मिळाली.
वेळो-वेळी सहकार्य करावे ही विनंती..!
मा.राज ठाकरे पत्रकार परिषदेत म्हणाले होते की,माझे आमदार विधानसभा डोक्यावर घेतील आणि रस्त्यावर मी आहेच या ‘मी’मध्ये तुम्ही आहात याची नोंद घ्यावी.आपल्याला रस्त्यावर (विधानभवनाबाहेर)खूप काम करून पक्षाचा व महाराष्ट्राचा विकास साधायचा आहे.
संकेतस्थळावरील इतर विभागांतील मजकूरही अवश्य वाचा.
जय महाराष्ट्र !
मनसे संकेतस्थळ प्रतिसाद कक्ष.
Subject:Query to party
मराठीतून होणे आवश्यक आहे.
परंतु त्यातील शपथ घेणे हा
विशेष महत्वाचा भाग नाही
(कारण शपथ कोणत्या भाषेतून
घेतली ह्यामुळे एक नागरीक
म्हणून माझ्या आयुश्यात
फारसा फरक पडत नाही.)
महत्वाची गोष्ट ही आहे कि,
मनसेकडे सर्व तरुण पिढी एक
चांगला पर्याय म्हणून बघत
वर्तणुक ही पक्षास
फायदेकारक तर नक्कीच नाही.
विशेष म्हणजे त्यानंतर
मालमत्तेचे नुकसान हे केवळ
निंदनीय नव्हे तर
त्यामुळे केवेळ फुटकळ
माजविण्यपेक्शा, एक जागरुक
विरोधी पक्ष म्हणून मला
असणाऱ्या अपेक्षा धुळीत
मिळाल्या तर माझ्याशिवाय
किती इतरांचा भ्रमनिरास
आपण केलात हे मोजणे अवघड