DPI Doesn't Kill The Open Internet, Carriers Do

The Free Press issued a report today that blames deep packet inspection technology for “The End of the Internet,” arguing that Internet service providers’ use of equipment that can inspect individual packets of data should raise concerns for both users and lawmakers.

The report: “Deep Packet Inspection: The End of the Internet as We Know It?” highlights the use of DPI equipment by Comcast (s CMSCA) in throttling P2P traffic, in Cox’s traffic prioritization scheme, the role DPI played in NebuAd’s plans to monitor web surfing in order to deliver advertising, and the use of such equipment to introduce consumption-based broadband programs. It neglects to cover the use of DPI for Internet threat monitoring and other more beneficial uses of the technology.

The central conclusion is one I would agree with, and have written about before:

Network providers can and will use DPI technology to improve their profits at the expense of their customers. The technology permits network operators to reduce the amount they spend on network  upgrades by allowing them to oversell their networks while simultaneously increasing the amount the average customer pays, through the creation of new revenue streams.

However, the report comes across as almost hysterical by blaming of the DPI technology rather than the carriers and how they are using it. Carriers are investing in their networks, although slowly, and are pricing new offerings with an eye toward increasing their margins. The real villian behind this creeping trend isn’t DPI. It’s a broadband policy that hasn’t encouraged competition — without which, a user that’s upset with a carrier trying to gouge them can’t easily switch to an equivalent provider.