Once again, I get to trumpet the enlightenment of my alma mater, Princeton University (Go Tigers!).
As detailed in this piece, iPads had a problem that started bringing down Princeton’s wifi network. So Princeton blocked the iPads, diagnosed the problem, published the details of the problem and acted in an open and transparent manner, developed a work around, published the work around, allowed any iPad that implemented the work around to reconnect, and is now working with Apple to share the work around with everyone.
I should point out that Princeton was never subject to any network neutrality rules. Not only are there no such rules in effect at the moment, owing to the recent decision by the DC Circuit, but Princeton is a “private network” (meaning they do not hold themselves out as doing business to the public) and therefore would not be subject to the proposed rules even if they were in effect. But it’s such a good example of how to deal with the “what if a device runs rampant and starts taking down the network” scenario that I had to post something.
Wireless carriers often raise the objection to applying “any device, any ap” rules to wireless networks that a malfunctioning device could take down the network. True. But as network outages on existing wireless networks under existing rules have shown time and again, giving wireless providers control over attachments and applications does not protect us from outages — including widespread national outages. The question is therefore whether a set of rules allows wireless operators to take swift action to protect the network and solve the problem.
The Princeton experience with the iPad shows how a well-crafted set of “reasonable network management” rules would work. Mind, I do not pretend that Princeton’s wifi network has the same level of complexity as Verizon’s 3G network (nor, of course, don they have Verizon’s resources). But as an example of the way I would like to see reasonable network management work, this provides an almost paradigmatric example.