“In the world of tech policy there are few issues more conflict-laden and wrapped up in misunderstandings than net neutrality,” says Doug Brake in The Hill. There is no shortage of internet maps [2, 3]. But what is missing is a “transit map” for the Internet — a users guide for the Internet.
A transit map, commonly used in subways, is a simplified logical diagram of the transit network to make it easy to use the transportation network. To make matters worse, as the future universal medium for human communication and interaction, issues related to the Internet naturally involve technology, jurisprudence, economics, commerce, finance, consumer protection, market monopoly issues, government oversight, politics, economic development — to name a few. So it is easy to add to the discussion issues that are not relevant or material and create confusion.
Unlike many media-anointed experts, I have spent years designing and developing network systems and applications — invented and patented technologies for improving networks. To help clarify the issues, I created an Internet Transit Map (below). The Internet Transit Map is a simplified logical diagram (“reference model”) of the Internet to provide clarity for discussions about regulating the Internet.
The Internet Transit Map (ITM) shows the top level logical systems and critical interconnections. There are two primary types of routers:
- Core routers, and
- Edge routers.
Different manufacturers offer different products that differ in functionality, performance and capacity.
The nodes marked “Core Routing” and “Edge Routing” in the Internet Transit Map may represent a single product configuration, or an entire network. For example, one “Core Routing” node could represent the full “Core Routing” in the Internet backbone provided by Sprint (data), or by Deutsche Telekom (IP Transit), or by CenturyLink. Other maps of physical networks are available here [2, 3, 4, 5].
In addition there are at least seven types of interconnections (interfaces) — numbered 1 thru 7 — that are critical for proper functioning of the Internet. These interconnections are made up of different types of hardware products and software stacks that operate over them. Compatibility and interoperability of hardware and software at these interconnections are essential for the Internet to function properly.
The technologies, systems and protocols used in each of these critical components of the Internet are totally different that any generalized discussion of “the Internet” to ensure its “openness” is meaningless. Issues need to be identified, discussed and resolved with respect to each of the interconnections (1-7) in the Internet Transit Map.
So far I have identified the following areas of confusion:
- Internet origins
- Internet “Fast lane” and “Slow lane”
- Myth of unregulated Internet
- Freedom for innovation
I plan to discuss them in the coming days and weeks. If you have topics for discussion and/or have questions, please include them in your comments below, or send them directly.