Does "Net Neutrality" Mean A Golden Highway Paved By Gamers?

Though today's much-discussed proposal was long on talk of transparency, there are two loopholes in Google and Verizon's plan for "Net Neutrality" rules and, yep, one of them covers "gaming options".

The Google/Verizon statement is long on airy principles and does a good job genuflecting to the idea that all consumers have access that isn't throttled or curbed because it competes with their broadband provider. But it also proposes allowing broadband providers "to offer additional, differentiated online services" that they can either charge extra for, limit access to or require specific equipment to access. "New entertainment and gaming options" are one.

To this layperson, it sounds somewhat like cable TV albeit in reverse; content providers might be willing to pay a broadband provider a premium to get their channel onto a cleaner, faster - and toll-driven - info highway. That cost is then going to be passed along, surely, to customers somehow.

I'm not a futurist or a businessman, but it seems that this could give a figleaf to a console online service provider to charge extra or open a super-gold pipeline delivering the same stuff you're already getting either free or at the standard rate.

And it would be up to the customer to know if sticking with the free, open internet that Google and Verizon advocate still delivers the full experience he or she wants. Or it could be that certain gold-level gaming services are moved entirely to what some already are calling this "private internet".

Online gaming represents enormous bandwidth and is a use that will only grow. Four years ago, the file size of an Xbox Live Arcade game was capped at 50MB, then it went to 250MB and 450MB and on and on. The Madden NFL 11 demo was 1.5GB. Full titles on both Xbox Live Marketplace and the PlayStation Network are in excess of 2GB, and let's not forget the PC titles delivered over Steam, Direct2Drive, GamersGate and more. A "private internet" would certainly see a growth market in gaming.

Wherever this is headed, Google and Verizon carry a ton of weight with Washington and a proposal to play fair from the private sector is much more palatable to a political climate that reflexively demonises pretty much any regulatory structure, especially of a new commodity.

But will it benefit gamers or just suck up more of their money? This bears watching.

Google and Verizon Propose Net Neutrality Rules [MSNBC]


    Dont be evil... Why cant things just be left alone?? Flippin big business trying weasle out every buck we all own... grrrr... Obama's internet kill switch... The days of the wild west on interwebs is getting stolen from us all. I has a face sad :(


      I agree that corporate greed and the music/film industry is negatively impacting upon internet freedoms, and I do think a solution needs to be forthcoming. Furthermore, in an age where the internet connects us as a global society in a way that no other technology can, there needs to be some system in place that allows for easy, cheap and reliable access to the internet for everyone.

      Obviously a lot of thought needs to go into the issue, as no company is going to offer its services for nothing. However, I don't think we've reached a position to implement any suggestions or changes to the current access model, as no one proposal is acceptable or even particularly well explained in all areas.

    I'm not sure I really understand exactly how they want this to work...let alone all the possible implications...but what would be stopping game companies from moving all their gaming to a private internet and charging us a premium to play anything at all? Seems like just another way to get even more money out of the customer. It sounds terrible to me.
    Imagine having to pay a premium for each game company you buy a game from.

    I'll live with shit ping for the sake of freedom!



    Sheesh, don't be giving Tel$tra ideas!

    I hate you, private sector. I hate you so much.

    If people dont just stop censoring me or ripping me for cash and just let me game in peace I'm going to start getting all Angry German Gamer at them.


    No. This is a good thing. This, coupled with buggy multiplatform releases of dumbed down games might be the push I need to start spending time doing other things.

    I think the aspect of "providing alternate services" is actually a fantastic idea. The premium price I'm not so fond of. I have suffered at the hands of the current system that WoW gets throttled at the expense of web browsing. I would love to be able to say to my provider, please switch me to the WoW optimised throttling. I don't however see why this should incur a premium price (other than perhaps a once off configuration fee).

    Mind you, I already have this ability at the moment to an extent. I'm currently using wowtunnels to get around my problem and it works fine for just a few dollars a month...if I played multiple games online however this cost could start to add up.

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