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Net neutrality: Meet the winner
June 12, 2006 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Net neutrality: Meet the winner As Verizon Communications' executive vice president for public affairs, policy and communications, Tauke has spent the last few months embroiled in a fiery debate over Net neutrality, the concept that broadband providers must be legally required to treat all content equally.
posted by Postroad (42 comments total)

 
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posted by Mr. Six at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2006


rips open a packet, pours the contents on the ground solemnly

.
posted by Fezboy! at 4:39 PM on June 12, 2006


Perhaps if more people had seen this the outcome would've been different. A shame, really.
Allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success...A number of justifications have been created to support carrier control over consumer choices online; none stand up to scrutiny."
- Vint Cerf
Google Chief Internet Evangelist and Co-Developer of the Internet Protocol

The neutral communications medium is essential to our society. It is the basis of a fair competitive market economy. It is the basis of democracy, by which a community should decide what to do. It is the basis of science, by which humankind should decide what is true. Let us protect the neutrality of the net."
- Tim Berners-Lee
Inventor of the World Wide Web
This is shaping up to be a class war: the proletariat, that is, people whose labor builds the internet, against the bourgeoise pipe-owners. History tells us who will win.
posted by mullingitover at 4:40 PM on June 12, 2006


"...The Senate is always an interesting challenge because the process is more open. We'll see how it unfolds...Generally our posture has been that if regulation is hindering the development of an industry, we ought to get rid of that regulation...'

At least he wears his shit on his sleeve... until he's asked a direct question.
posted by 517 at 4:49 PM on June 12, 2006


Perhaps if more people had seen this the outcome would've been different.

Sadly, perhaps not. Last semester I gave college students information that layed out this issue, gave them the email addresses of their Congress-people, and offered extra credit if they wrote to them about it. No one bit (although the did write to them about the student loan issue in January.)
posted by O Blitiri at 5:05 PM on June 12, 2006


Laid, that is.
posted by O Blitiri at 5:06 PM on June 12, 2006


hmm.. I used to run an ISP and the broadband providers have a legitimate concern. The economics of ISP's is that you oversell bandwidth by factors of 100 times or more. With services like YouTube and other high-bandwidth video (we are soon moving to TV over Internet) this destroys the model. We used to find that %5 of the customers used %90 of the bandwidth. If that changes, they have legitimate concerns. I'm not sure what the answer is, and Network Neutrality is important, but this notion that everyone gets to use all their bandwidth all the time ignores the realities of the infrastructure.
posted by stbalbach at 5:23 PM on June 12, 2006


History tells us who will win.

Well, so far history says the bourgeoise pipe-owners. Unless you've skipped ahead to the end, or something...
posted by slatternus at 5:35 PM on June 12, 2006


Fat wads of cash wins eh?
posted by Artw at 5:37 PM on June 12, 2006


How about if the ISP didn't oversell? (Or charged the actual price?)

ZOMG!
posted by MikeKD at 5:37 PM on June 12, 2006


slatternus writes "Well, so far history says the bourgeoise pipe-owners. Unless you've skipped ahead to the end, or something..."

No, I was talking about the bourgeoise pipe-owners winning. Then they're ruled over by the hereditary nobility (see elimination of estate tax, current ruling dynasty in the USA for examples).
posted by mullingitover at 5:40 PM on June 12, 2006


Won't the future be FUN!
posted by slatternus at 5:44 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]


The Senate is always an interesting challenge because the process is more open.

Exactly, this guy sees that having an open process is harmful to his cause. Lovely comment about the way the whole system works, really.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:47 PM on June 12, 2006


I'm not surprised to see MeFi's chattering classes rehashing the same old bromides on the subject. Anyone looking for light, rather than heat, may want to look at the wikipedia article. It's really good.
posted by Kwantsar at 5:50 PM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]




I'm not surprised to see MeFi's chattering classes rehashing the same old bromides on the subject. Anyone looking for light, rather than heat, may want to look at the wikipedia article. It's really good.

Actually, I'm not really sure how I feel about it and the discussions here have pointed this non-techie in the right direction to get more info. I'm just getting that sinking feeling once again that my future has just been sold to the highest bidder.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:54 PM on June 12, 2006


It is a good article, Kwantsar, and I thank you for pointing us toward it. I suspect that we might disagree on the peoper course, from here, though.
posted by mkhall at 6:21 PM on June 12, 2006


God, American representation is horseshit.
posted by Peter H at 6:23 PM on June 12, 2006


by Congress and the Senate, etc, I mean ...
posted by Peter H at 6:25 PM on June 12, 2006


The economics of ISP's is that you oversell bandwidth by factors of 100 times or more.

i see. fraud is economics now.
posted by quonsar at 6:49 PM on June 12, 2006


Banks work the same way, it's known as leverage or gearing. It's only fraud when enough people say so.
posted by econous at 6:53 PM on June 12, 2006


I used to run an ISP and the broadband providers have a legitimate concern.

You must have done a bad job if you weren't selling QOS.

See, YouTube and Google aren't buying cablemodems. They're buying, at the minimum, OC-3s and OC-12s, and they're buying QOS. The line will be up for several 9s, and they get the whole bandwidth of the line. As part of this sale, the ISP lays on enough bandwidth and router to make sure that these customers get a full 155Mb/sec for their OC-3s, and a full 621Mb/sec for their OC-12s.

There's a cost to this, of course -- cost. An OC-3 with 50% QOS and bursting, meaning they ensure you always have at least 50% of the bandwidth, and you can burst up to 100%, provided upstream and router bandwidth is there. The cost? $5000 to install, $5000 per month. Anything bigger than that costs much more.

Bigger lines also come with bandwidth charges. The idea that YouTube or Google are getting a free ride is inane. YouTube and Google are paying, quite literally, millions of dollars a year for bandwidth.

Indeed, Google pays so much for bandwidth that it is seriously considering become a Tier 1 provider itself. They've bought miles of dark fiber from MCI and Abovenet, and they've bought bizzare amounts of bandwidth from Cogent, to try and move data without paying the bandwidth costs. Continental sized fiber networks cost lots and lots and lots and lots of money, and Google thinks that building one is the cheaper answer -- never mind the fact if they get large enough and are willing to haul any data, they can peer with the Tier 1 networks, and move much of that data for free, so long as the aggregate traffic is close to balanced.
posted by eriko at 7:05 PM on June 12, 2006


It's only fraud when enough people say so.

Hah. You can get a 100% QOS, full bandwidth T-1 right now. Just start making calls. You will have 1.44Mb/s up and down, and you'll have enough router and bandwidth upstream to make sure that you'll get all of that 1.44Mb, in both directions, every second of every day. They'll even run and provision a second pair in case something goes wrong with the first.

Hint: It won't be $50 a month.
posted by eriko at 7:07 PM on June 12, 2006


Overselling isn't fraud.

Imagine the opposite: you buy a line and always get your 100K download speed, even though no one else is logged on your ISP has several T1s sitting unused, while the latest hillbilly contortionist video from YouTube trickles in... overselling lets you use shared resources that no one else is using.

But on Net neutrality:

First, I hope this sort of nonsense doesn't make it north of the border.

Second, I have no problem with priority services, it's the threat of de-prioritized services that worries me.

For example, Sympatico (a Canadian ISP) runs an online music store (WMA files). One assumes that since it's their music store that the servers are located close to Sympatico's backbone network. They would, therefore, have to be faster than, say, connecting to iTunes simply because they're closer to sympatico customers. This doesn't seem bad to my mind. The bad part would be if Sympatico throttled all iTunes traffic until Apple paid up. That's blackmail.
posted by GuyZero at 7:15 PM on June 12, 2006


Banks work the same way.

i rest my case.
posted by quonsar at 7:17 PM on June 12, 2006


"Second, I have no problem with priority services, it's the threat of de-prioritized services that worries me."

But, hasn't de-prioritization already occured once one site loads faster than another because of something the provider is doing?
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:21 PM on June 12, 2006


overselling lets you use shared resources that no one else is using.


Until people start using the bandwidth they think they're paying for, then the overselling starts to become something of a liability for the ISP (I know, without a SLA one is SOL, but the customer's perception is that the ISP is crap, or committing fraud)
posted by MikeKD at 7:30 PM on June 12, 2006


The bad part would be if Sympatico throttled all iTunes traffic until Apple paid up. That's blackmail.

That's precisely what AT&T and Verison will do as soon as these laws pass. The telcos have a looooooooong history of raping the paying customer at every opportunity.

They'll resort to blackmail and corporate censorship within weeks.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:48 PM on June 12, 2006


eriko, it's the home broadband user getting a free ride, not YouTube.
posted by stbalbach at 9:24 PM on June 12, 2006


"all circuits busy"

Try calling NYC on 9/11, or California during an earthquake. The Internet is no different. Overselling capacity is how business is done. It's not "fraud", if you had to build out full capacity the cost would be so high no one could afford it. It is the whole point of Verizon in the NN debate, there are too many end users using too much bandwidth at current prices to be a viable business (if that's true or not I don't know, but imagine streaming HDTV to every home from "HDTV-Tube.com").
posted by stbalbach at 9:36 PM on June 12, 2006


The Social Production of Indifference


I'm going to join FON. It might be the only way to create universal broadband. Wasn't surprised by the negative house vote (fully in the grasp of the Dark Side) although there is hope. Actually, the only hope is for Google and Microsoft and Ebay, hopefully not together because that would create another kind of duopoly, to create their own national broadband network. Let's hope Sergey gets angry. You wouldn't like Sergey when he's angry...probably because the Software Kings are really really talented. Google would clean the telcos clock and create much better television while they're at it. (Of course, in working democracies, governments like Japan and France and S. Korea can simply look out for the public good and the telcos would have to put their rapacious greed on hold...wish we had that here.)
posted by Unregistered User at 9:40 PM on June 12, 2006


Opps, the The Social Production of Indifference wasn't supposed to be in
my last comment, however, it works...lol
posted by Unregistered User at 9:44 PM on June 12, 2006


The problem is not that the ISPs are overselling capacity. They're already getting paid for both ends of the pipe. The problem is that companies that provide material that comes over their pipes are making money, and the ISPs want a bigger slice of that.

More than that, companies are offering services that directly compete with the telcos own services, especially VOIP.

Getting rid of net neutrality is a power grab, a way to go from being a provider of bandwidth to being in selective control over what passes over those pipes. Remember the lawsuits to try and stop ISPs artificially degrading non-ISP VOIP traffic? With net neutrality legally buried, they'll be legally entitled to do just that, and the same to any other service that competes with them.

History has shown that without regulation, monopolies and oligarchies will squeeze the customer for every penny they can. Those same oligarchies claim that what they're doing is the 'free market in action', and regulation is anti-free market. No. The free market only operates when the oligarchy incumbants are prevented from abusing their position to control others. Does this US government not remember Standard Oil, AT&T, or Microsoft?
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:21 AM on June 13, 2006




eriko, it's the home broadband user getting a free ride, not YouTube.

Exactly. Which is why the argument that content providers should pay for bandwidth is inane -- they already *do*, and how.

I have no problem with oversell, as long as it is reasonable. Heck, I think Speakeasy has my DSLAM undersold, but I'm not telling them that.

(Speakeasy, I'm in Atlanta, GA. ;) )

It makes lots of sense to oversell bandwidth, because bandwidth is a perishable commidity. Once a second passes, every bit that didn't move is a bit that can never be sold again. The idea that I pay a small amount to use leftover bandwidth, with a rate cap and a minimum level of service, is fine by me. If I wanted T-1 speeds all the time, I'd order up the T-1.

They'll resort to blackmail and corporate censorship within weeks.

Of course, their dream is to make the Internet like cable.

Now, the dark side. See, ISPs used to love Net Neutrality, back when we just called it "Common Carrier" There was a very simple deal with being a Common Carrier. If you passed along *all* properly formatted traffic, you were immune from liability for carrying any of that traffic. The moment you started filtering on content, that went away. This is how the phone company avoided liability for things like extortion calls carried over phones, etc. -- they agreed to carry all traffic, even traffic inimical to the phone company, in exchange for not being liable for the results. A fair deal, IMNHO, and one I support fully for ISPs.

So, if they do start doing this, I wonder if someone will start lawsuits over carrying porn/bomb information/warez/etc.

They might try to filter it. Good luck buying the routers. A big part of not filtering is that you don't need CPU or memory to not filter. But the big carriers see the chance to make more money, and the telcos see a chance to save a big part of their revenue stream. See, if they start filtering, you can bet that VoIP will be one of the things that they'll gladly slaughter. Indeed, I expect YouTube and Google to be fast. It'll be Vonage that'll get blackholed.

Heck, I'm pretty sure they don't see YouTube, et. al., as a real threat. Lord knows I sure don't. Google is more of a threat, because if they do build a backbone, they can start fighting the telcos on the same battlefeild -- and Google has something the world uses almost as much as phones.

I have to admit that I'm amused that the idea that Google, et. al, aren't being fair to the Phone Company got traction, and apparently gains sympathy. "Please, Brer Rabbit, don't make me pay for that OC-12!"
posted by eriko at 4:26 AM on June 13, 2006


They're already getting paid for both ends of the pipe. The problem is that companies that provide material that comes over their pipes are making money, and the ISPs want a bigger slice of that.

Yep -- and there's so much overcapacity that they can't fix the problem by just raising the rates that the content vendors pay.

See, they built all this infrastructure during the bubble, and while PetSmart's stock value may have dissappeared, the fiber they buried for PetSmart didn't. For any pipe over 500m long, stringing the glass (or, in rare cases, the copper) costs far more than bolting boxes to the ends to make it work. Telcos have an advantage that they have lots of copper and fiber about -- but that turns to a disadvantage in a world where people want OC-3s or better, and where there's already too much copper and glass lying about.

So, they're trying to extort more money out of the current resource, by changing the fundamental rule of the Internet: Thou Shalt Route All Compliant Packets. By forcing providers into super-QOS agreements, they think they can make more money by playing them off each other. "Hey, Yahoo -- Google's paying us $1 million more per switch. If you pay $2 million, your packets go first. If you don't, you might as well go back to UUCP and modems."
posted by eriko at 4:33 AM on June 13, 2006


Hrm. You know who else also oversells? Airlines. Its a bummer when everyone who bought a ticket shows up looking for a seat.

In the D.C. area, the telecoms have been playing commercials lobbying for the change. Their angle? They point to the poor people living in rural America who have no choice but to pay for that over priced Cable (no competition to lower the prices!). Of course, I was trying to figure out when the satellite tv providers were left out of the equation. I've driven through plenty of rural America and a high number of homes happily have those dishes perched on the side of their houses or roofs.
posted by Atreides at 5:04 AM on June 13, 2006


My google-fu is failing me, but didn't I read something a few months back (possibly on MeFi) about billions in subsidies from the US Government to the telecommunications industries for building out networks that never got built?
posted by kableh at 6:19 AM on June 13, 2006


"It is the whole point of Verizon in the NN debate, there are too many end users using too much bandwidth at current prices to be a viable business..."

Oh boo-hoo. Somehow the US ranks 10th in the world in internet connectivity and yet pays some of the highest prices and we are supposed to feel sorry for the providers? Other countries seem to offer faster, more enhanced service without causing providers to go out of business.
posted by UseyurBrain at 7:56 AM on June 13, 2006


Of course, I was trying to figure out when the satellite tv providers were left out of the equation. I've driven through plenty of rural America and a high number of homes happily have those dishes perched on the side of their houses or roofs.

Last I checked, satellite internet was still so expensive as to not be viewed as serious competition in markets where DSL and/or cable are available. It's really still only for people who have absolutely no other choice and desperately need broadband.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 8:52 AM on June 13, 2006


With satellite internet, you generally have a big difference in your down/up rates. Due to the nature of TCP, the down rate limits the upload rate to a certain extent.

Satellite internet is an option of last resort.
posted by sonofsamiam at 9:11 AM on June 13, 2006


Somehow the US ranks 10th in the world in internet connectivity and yet pays some of the highest prices

The U.S. doesn't have dense, compact, easily-wired cities.
posted by Tlogmer at 2:03 PM on June 13, 2006




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