How the Web's Fast Lanes Would Work Without Net Neutrality

If US regulators end up allowing telecom companies to set up fast lanes on the public Internet, companies that make the needed gear say the remaining service would inevitably get a little slower.

The idea of a fast lane, or "paid prioritization," means preferred traffic moving inside broadband providers' networks would be ushered through congested spots first.

The process works a bit like cars moving through a tollgate. When packets of data show up, the equipment that routes them along their way checks to see which ones have paid for priority access and slots those packets into faster moving queues. The rest would have to wait a little longer than they would have otherwise.

"You can reallocate what's in the pipe, but it can't get wider," said Don Bowman, chief technology officer for network-gear maker Sandvine. As an alternative, broadband providers could instead route traffic down separate channels for "managed services" that telecom and cable companies currently use to carry their own services, like video.


How the Web's Fast Lanes Would Work Without Net Neutrality