In many ways, the difference between traffic management and network neutrality is rather subtle.
In fact, one objection some have had to mandating “best effort only” consumer Internet access is that although some applications do just fine, others might require network-specific performance assurance.
It does seem inevitable that tensions between “fairness,” the objective of most network neutrality rules, and “effectiveness,” the ability of a network to support specific applications, as they require, will be an on-going issue.
Suggestions that future fifth generation networks will support “network slicing” provide yet one example. If specific apps have different functional requirements, Ericsson’s vision for 5G includes the ability to tune the network to support those specific apps, giving each app what it requires, without the overhead of generic resources unrelated to app performance.
Each use case will require a different configuration of requirements and parameters in the network.
In other words, networks will be built in a flexible way so that speed, capacity and coverage can be allocated in logical slices to meet the specific demands of each use case.
But that is not “treating all bits equally.” That’s the enduring problem. “Fairness” conflicts with “optimizing performance.”