I am no image consultant. You may have decided that already on your own if you have seen me in public. However, having seen my share of technologies come and go, some succeeding while others have failed to take hold, it is obvious when a technology is burdened with image issues. And while image is not as important as practical usability, image and hype issues often can kill a technology, or doom it to slow adoption path, before it really takes off.
Deep packet inspection is a technology with an image problem. It has become, through misuse, poor promotion and legislative mishandling, Public Enemy No. 1 in the privacy protection fight, and while there is plenty to fear if companies or individuals use the technology to nefarious ends, there is plenty more to gain if service providers come out and explain in detail why they want to use the technology, how they want to use it, what options customers will have in how, when and where it is applied, and most importantly, what broadband users ultimately can gain from more efficient management of broadband networks.
If service providers are progressive in thinking and aggressive in acting, they can head off Net neutrality and online privacy legislation, or at least make it more of a moot point at a time during an election year when Congress may find it hard to act on the issue anyway. When they are quiet about DPI and its uses, they only allow the silence to be filled with more criticism.
The other part of DPI's image problem is its name. Any technology that sounds like it is to be administered by a proctologist is not gaining entrance to the O'Shea household, let alone anyone else's. Deep packet inspection is indeed accurate and completely to the point, but in a year that has seen telcos narrowly avoid lawsuits related to wiretapping, the name begs for the technology to be viewed as an invasion of privacy. It may be too late to do much about that, with the DPI acronym already embedded in everyone's minds, but perhaps the industry can keep the acronym and change its meaning. Anyone up for Doubly Pleasant Inebriation?
- read Part 1 of a series on DPI at Telephony