Life in the Fast Lane? Deciphering Net Neutrality WAN Impacts

In December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to end its Title II classifications of ISPs. The rules in question had been implemented in 2015 to classify ISPs as common carriers, for the main purpose of enforcing net neutrality – i.e., the principle that all traffic traversing telecom networks is entitled to the same treatment.

The Meaning of Title II Net Neutrality Repeal

There has since been endless speculation about what the new stance will mean for service providers and their customers. It's not the first time such anxiety about the future of IP networking has surfaced.

Over the years, FCC net neutrality regulations have shifted between classifying Internet as a Title I (information) or Title II (communications) service. The regulatory pendulum has swung depending on practices such as ISP throttling/blocking of specific services and ISP arguments about how Title II net neutrality discourages infrastructure investment.

One key difference this time is the centrality of real-time applications, especially video streaming and VoIP, that barely had footholds when the FCC Open Internet Order 2010 (a precursor to the 2015 rules) was issued. These apps are now among the biggest drivers of IP traffic and have long benefited from net neutrality enforcement.

A few questions naturally arise: Will they need access to ISP fast lanes to maintain their positions? What constraints might be placed on last-mile bandwidth? Will carrier control of MPLS create additional risks for enterprises? It's hard to answer any of them definitively, given the prospects of additional government and/or private sector action.

However, even amid the uncertainty, it's a good time to reassess whether your wide area network (WAN) is ready for the potential shift. Planning an upgrade to a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) will ensure you have the bandwidth liquidity and network intelligence to adapt to possible changes to fast lanes, throttling and routing. Enterprise SD-WANs can actually incorporate Internet fast-lanes into your edge-network infrastructure and ideally do so in a carrier-agnostic way.

SD-WAN as a Hedge for Business-Critical Apps

A throttled slow lane will require WAN mitigation, ideally through an SD-WAN feature for continuous quality measurement with millisecond response packet optimization. Meanwhile, a fast lane isolated from Netflix traffic will not be enough for your most important traffic.

You'll still need the effective packet routing that only a modern SD-WAN solution can deliver. SD-WAN intelligently allocates bandwidth and also directs packets to different classes of service paths based on Quality of Service (aka QoS). The result is superior assurance and deterministic routing for your key applications, even as enterprise WANs as a whole face potentially major transformations in how they're operated.

Many workarounds are being explored in the wake of the net-neutrality rollback, including municipal fiber networks and increased utilization of VPNs. SD-WAN offers a more sophisticated solution designed to preserve continuity during this time of change. To learn more about Talari's patented SD-WAN platform, download our latest eBook below or fill out an online form to set up a product demo.

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