The Summer of Net Neutrality and Generic Top Level Domains

blueberry slush in a cupNet neutrality and the new generic top level domains are two examples of the range of stuff CIO’s have to be knowledgeable on, or at least have some familiarity with. Just thinking of it gives me a shooting pain in the front of my head like a brain freeze from a blueberry slushy. What makes it worse is a lot of the stuff just isn’t very fun to have to track let alone getting your IT governance committee excited about. Here are two these recent examples.

Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD)

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) last week approved the use of generic top-level domains. This historic change allows top-level domain names to be created using any language or script. This is a radical departure from the highly structured format we are all very used to by now. It is also a possibly just an interesting distraction for most colleges who have yet to consider registering their institution under the .mobi (mobile) domain.

But before you rush out to register .university or .college, you might want to site down for this next part. ICANN has set the price for a gTLD at $185,000. The good news is that companies and organizations will be subjected to a rigorous process that opens January 12th, to prevent domain name squatters.

For CIO’s this is much more than a vanity exercise with the marketing committee, alumni association or athletic boosters. Many critics of gTLD argue the existence of generic domains will be very disruption. Already the speculation on possible impacts to Internet search, SEO and various methods of online marketing are popping up. Regardless, this promises to be a topic of great interest and debate.

Net Neutrality

The FCC has delivered the net neutrality rules for the final step in the process of them becoming law. Net neutrality is a part of a larger national broadband plan introduced in 2009. The original order dubbed “Preserving the Open Internet” is commonly known as net neutrality which establishes three main rules:

  • Transparency for fixed and mobile broadband providers.
  • No blocking for fixed broadband providers in general, while mobile broadband providers can’t block competitive services, although blocking apps is fine.
  • No unreasonable discrimination by fixed broadband providers while mobile broadband providers have to justify their discrimination.

Now I am not an attorney and I am certainly not smart enough to understand just which dominoes are being lined up behind net neutrality becoming law, but a lot of folks seem to believe the lawsuits will start flowing almost immediately.

For higher education this should be seen as generally positive as we gain more tools to ensure the free flow of information. But there can be a downside to treating all traffic equal least of which may be that some apps are bandwidth hogs. Most of us already do some form of shaping as part of a HEAO P2P compliance strategy and likely other prioritization on our wireless networks.

But will net neutrality apply to us? If yes, in what ways? That’s hard to say since I am still a bit confused by the definitions in so far as their applicability on campus. What if you are a part of a community area network that provides Internet access? Perhaps the more common applicability will be in how Internet services are provided to dormitories. Just like with gTLD this issue will require monitoring as I am sure things will get interesting. So consider following Broadband Traffic Management for while to see what comes up.

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