A grad student in media studies named Bill Herman makes an earnest attempt to rationalize Snowe-Dorgan for Public Knowledge and fails miserably:
For instance, what in the Snowe-Dorgan proposal, S 2917, mandates a specific internet architecture? The text is remarkably free of techno jargon. It forbids the blocking or degrading of legal net traffic, but it specifically authorizes companies to prioritize packets. If VoIP and streaming video need a smarter network, companies can build that smarter network. They just cannot charge extra for delivery of those specific services.
Technical people schooled in network protocols in general and priority-based QoS see the hole in his argument instantly: Priority-based QoS isn’t something you can give to everybody. There are a very limited set of time slots available on any network segment for low-latency delivery, and the only way we have to guarantee QoS to limit the number of QoS users at each segment in the routes we find for QoS. And that implies some sort of queue policing, which in general is triggered by a service contract.
So Snowe-Dorgan does mandate an architecture for datalinks and network segments, and it just so happens that the architecture it mandates is out of step with all new networks engineered in the past 10 years: WMM for WiFi, MBOA UWB, IEEE 802.15.3a UWB, WiMax, and even DOCSIS. Network engineers know this stuff, but media critics don’t.
As far as the “strike now while the iron is hot” argument goes, the argument for taking rash action because the issue will soon fade from public interest is the best argument for doing nothing we could possibly have. If the predictions of abuse the pro-regulation neutralists have made come true, the issue will certainly not fade from the public’s attention; that only happens if the predictions of abuse don’t materialize.
The neutralists have put themselves between a rock and hard place by making these hysterical claims, by the way. If nothing happens on the regulation front this year and these dire predictions fail to materialize, their credibility will certainly be damaged, perhaps permanently.
See the Ed Felton paper for the background on Herman’s complaints. The paper has a number of smallish technical errors, but reaches the right conclusion anyway.