7.23.1 Chapter 10 summary

Lessig says, in Chapter 10, that as the internet increasingly migrates to broadband (high-speed) use, via cable networks for example, it is moving to networks with more controlled architectures. On cable, content flows faster upstream than downstream (i.e. information flows faster from the cable company to the consumer than in the other direction). Broadband cable owners are not subject to the same legal restrictions as narrowband telephone network owners to keep their networks open. They have no obligation or incentive to operate open e2e architectures. As companies like Cisco develop technologies of control – such as policy-based routers – network owners will deploy them, enabling an evolution of the internet to a much more controlled architecture at the code layer.

As network owners await the development of these technologies of control, they are attempting to neutralise the competitive effect of the internet's code layer by controlling access to, and use of, their networks. One example is employing limited numbers of approved ISPs through which internet users can access their networks. The hope is that by providing controlled access points, or ‘chokepoints’, they can control the traffic on their networks.

This rational business behaviour may have a negative effect on the internet as an innovation commons.

7.23 Commerce and architectures of identification

7.24 General commercial incentives to change internet architecture