Vint Cerf Speaking Out on Internet Neutrality
By CircleID Reporter on Nov 10, 2005

In a U.S. congress hearing held yesterday November 9th, significant focus
was projected on ³network neutrality² and a new telecommunications bill
affecting the Internet. ³This bill could fundamentally alter the fabulously
successful end-to-end Internet,² says Alan Davidson in the post on Google

Vint Cerf was not able to testify because of the Presidential Medal of
Freedom award ceremony at the White House, but submitted the following
letter to the hearing:

Dear Chairman Barton and Ranking Member Dingell,

I appreciate the inquiries by your staff about my availability to appear
before the Committee and to share Google¹s views about draft
telecommunications legislation and the issues related to ³network
neutrality.² These are matters of great importance to the Internet and
Google welcomes the Committee¹s hard work and attention. The hearing
unfortunately conflicts with another obligation, and I am sorry I will not
be able to attend. (Along with my colleague Robert Kahn, I am honored to be
receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wednesday at the White House
for our work in creating the Internet protocol TCP/IP.)

Despite my inability to participate in the planned hearing in person, I hope
that you will accept some brief observations about this legislation.

The remarkable social impact and economic success of the Internet is in many
ways directly attributable to the architectural characteristics that were
part of its design. The Internet was designed with no gatekeepers over new
content or services. The Internet is based on a layered, end-to-end model
that allows people at each level of the network to innovate free of any
central control. By placing intelligence at the edges rather than control in
the middle of the network, the Internet has created a platform for
innovation. This has led to an explosion of offerings ­ from VOIP to 802.11x
wi-fi to blogging ­ that might never have evolved had central control of the
network been required by design.

My fear is that, as written, this bill would do great damage to the Internet
as we know it. Enshrining a rule that broadly permits network operators to
discriminate in favor of certain kinds of services and to potentially
interfere with others would place broadband operators in control of online
activity. Allowing broadband providers to segment their IP offerings and
reserve huge amounts of bandwidth for their own services will not give
consumers the broadband Internet our country and economy need. Many people
will have little or no choice among broadband operators for the foreseeable
future, implying that such operators will have the power to exercise a great
deal of control over any applications placed on the network.

As we move to a broadband environment and eliminate century-old
non-discrimination requirements, a lightweight but enforceable neutrality
rule is needed to ensure that the Internet continues to thrive. Telephone
companies cannot tell consumers who they can call; network operators should
not dictate what people can do online.

I am confident that we can build a broadband system that allows users to
decide what websites they want to see and what applications they want to use
­ and that also guarantees high quality service and network security. That
network model has and can continue to provide economic benefits to
innovators and consumers‹and to the broadband operators who will reap the
rewards for providing access to such a valued network.

We appreciate the efforts in your current draft to create at least a
starting point for net neutrality principles. Google looks forward to
working with you and your staff to draft a bill that will maintain the
revolutionary potential of the broadband Internet.

Thank you for your attention and for your efforts on these important issues.


Vinton Cerf
Chief Internet Evangelist
Google Inc. 

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