Join 3,415 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"See no evil, hear no evil..." "Can you hear me now?"
August 9, 2010 12:43 PM   Subscribe

Despite very strong denials last week from Google and Verizon that they were not discussing ways around Net Neutrality, Google and Verizon held a conference today to announce their agreement to the establishment of price-tiered network services, dividing the current Internet into a "neutral public Internet" that remains "open" (and which preserves access to YouTube and other Google properties), and a set of paid, priority channels that Verizon and other telecoms can use to deliver certain other types of content at higher prices, particularly over cell networks and whatever future infrastructure the Internet will be carried over.
posted by Blazecock Pileon (224 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Mr. Schmidt reiterates: “This is not a deal. This is a joint policy announcement.” He says that Google and Verizon are committed to playing by these rules.

Whatever, dude.
posted by blucevalo at 12:48 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fail.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


New Google Motto: Don't Be Honest
posted by hippybear at 12:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [37 favorites]


Such a nasty little deal, this. They rig it so they're free to charge schools more for "advanced educational services", just so long as those services haven't been running over the internet so far ("traditional"). Basically, they're allowing non-neutral carrying for all future innovations.

The wireless world is even worse, basically all bets are off there, and the carriers can do whatever the fuck they want so long as they tell you about it. Why should this be? Because it is "changing fast".

I've long given Google the benefit of the doubt, even on apparent howlers like Buzz, but I struggle to see any argument for this benefitting we the public. It's certainly not going to mean better broadband: other countries have managed vastly better broadband that's still net-neutral; blaming US performance on such restrictions is nonsense.
posted by bonaldi at 12:51 PM on August 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


.
posted by atbash at 12:51 PM on August 9, 2010


:,(
posted by milarepa at 12:52 PM on August 9, 2010


We're sorry, the page your looking for is unavailable due to content-provider contractual obligations. Please consider visiting the following verizon-friendly pages instead: meatlifter.com, metaWOW.com, awesomefilter.com, lolcats.cn, pepsi.com
posted by Azazel Fel at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2010 [49 favorites]


Can I have lube next time?
posted by Splunge at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Surely there's a better link to describe this than a NYT liveblog?
posted by boo_radley at 12:53 PM on August 9, 2010


So this is the part where the Shadow Internet really takes off, right? I want to get in early so I can pick a better handle this time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:55 PM on August 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


Well, it's a liveblog of a very-recently-held conference call. Once someone writes a conventional story about it, we can post it to this thread.
posted by dammitjim at 12:55 PM on August 9, 2010


Surely there's a better link to describe this than a NYT liveblog?

Here's what Gruber was linking to.
posted by nomadicink at 12:56 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about this Arstechnica article that says sorta the same stuff but in top-to-bottom fashion.
posted by dammitjim at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2010


They mention FiOS which is interesting. Offering TV and other "specialized" services over the Internet for a fee wouldn't necessarily undermine Net Neutrality in my view. Netflix on Demand isn't free either. To take it even further, there's an argument to be made that such services already make the Internet less accessible to those of us who aren't using it by sucking up precious bandwidth. If "powerusers" pay more to keep the rest of the net accessible, that's a good thing, no?

Not sure if I'm being devil's advocate here or what, but obviously, something's gotta give. The days of the Web as a hypertext-only medium are over.
posted by monospace at 12:58 PM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Google's blog post on this, in which a publicly-traded company tells the public how it plans to exert control over the public Internet via public policy, so that the Internet can be more 'open.'
posted by swift at 12:59 PM on August 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Looks like it's time to go back to searching for things with phone books.
posted by pwally at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2010


America must continue to encourage both investment and innovation to support the underlying broadband infrastructure; it is imperative for our global competitiveness.

Translation: we're pretty sure the money we will make with our new policy is going to offset any PR nightmare we might endure.
posted by pwally at 1:04 PM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Any future chain letters that you may see about "Verizon and Google are going to force you to pay extra for Facebook", blame me because I just started one of those.
posted by wcfields at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2010 [14 favorites]


Note to corporate fanbois everywhere, of every company: They will all fuck you in the end.
posted by maxwelton at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2010 [21 favorites]


It sounds like they're just laying the groundwork for selling movies, TV shows and other copyrighted material over the 'Net to me.
posted by glaucon at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2010


This is a joint policy proposal.

From the NYTimes link:
1:50 P.M. |Prioritizing Traffic

Mr. Seidenberg fields a question about the distinction between the neutral public Internet and the new services that could be prioritized. “Under the principles, there is no prioritization of traffic that comes from Google over the Internet, period,” he said. It is not entirely clear how these new services would work, but Mr. Schmidt said that Google has no plans to offer any of these enhanced services.
Google's statement is on their Public Policy Blog:
Second, we agree that in addition to these existing principles there should be a new, enforceable prohibition against discriminatory practices. This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition.

Importantly, this new nondiscrimination principle includes a presumption against prioritization of Internet traffic - including paid prioritization. So, in addition to not blocking or degrading of Internet content and applications, wireline broadband providers also could not favor particular Internet traffic over other traffic.

Third, it’s important that the consumer be fully informed about their Internet experiences. Our proposal would create enforceable transparency rules, for both wireline and wireless services. Broadband providers would be required to give consumers clear, understandable information about the services they offer and their capabilities. Broadband providers would also provide to application and content providers information about network management practices and any other information they need to ensure that they can reach consumers.

Fourth, because of the confusion about the FCC’s authority following the Comcast court decision, our proposal spells out the FCC’s role and authority in the broadband space. In addition to creating enforceable consumer protection and nondiscrimination standards that go beyond the FCC’s preexisting consumer safeguards, the proposal also provides for a new enforcement mechanism for the FCC to use. Specifically, the FCC would enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process. The FCC could move swiftly to stop a practice that violates these safeguards, and it could impose a penalty of up to $2 million on bad actors.

Fifth, we want the broadband infrastructure to be a platform for innovation. Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access and video services (such as Verizon's FIOS TV) offered today. This means that broadband providers can work with other players to develop new services. It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options. Our proposal also includes safeguards to ensure that such online services must be distinguishable from traditional broadband Internet access services and are not designed to circumvent the rules. The FCC would also monitor the development of these services to make sure they don’t interfere with the continued development of Internet access services.
(Emphasis mine)

And of course, a slap at Apple:
1. Users should choose what content, applications, or devices they use, since openness has been central to the explosive innovation that has made the Internet a transformative medium.

posted by zarq at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


"The original architects of the Internet got the big things right."

That's the kind of phrasing that makes me stop reading immediately. "However, it's come to our attention you as consumers demand better delivery of the same shit networks have been pumping out for years. So we got in bed with them."
posted by yerfatma at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2010


Suggested alternate post title: See no evil, hear no evil . . . and speak no truth.
posted by bearwife at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


So pretty much all that needs to happen now is a shift to wireless as the primary means of selling broadband internet access and net neutrality is completely dead (Verizon has already completely stopped deploying FIOS). But hey, at least they'll have to tell us what's being blocked.
posted by mullingitover at 1:14 PM on August 9, 2010


STOP DON'T NOT BEING EVIL, OK, GOOGLE?
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:15 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


The write-up is quite misleading.

The announcement does not describe "agreement to the establishment of price-tiered network services". It delineates the difference between basic, open internet services and services that are basically equivalent to cable and satellite TV, like Verizon does with FIOS TV and AT&T with U-Verse, that use IP transport as their basic method of deliver. Simply said, basic internet shouldn't be tiered, but special services, like TV broadcasting can.

There is wider loophole on the mobile data access side, where Google and Verizon are leaving their options open. [insert conspiracy theory here]

There were no new services or business agreements announced. It is a statement of principles.

Lastly, there is no "public Internet". The internet, for the vast majority of connectivity, is a collection of private, for profit networks, that have agreed to common standards and peering arrangements to allow data to traverse unimpeded. The idea that the internet is publicly owned or is in any significant way not a for-profit, private enterprise is simply wrong. No one owes you or anyone else internet access. Everyone pays for internet access or gets it 'free' from someone who does pay for internet access. TANSTAAFL...

Of course, don't let common sense or the facts play into your hand-wringing. Let's jump right down the slippery-slope to the worst case scenario, which, of course, is brought to you via the Internet!
posted by Argyle at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2010 [38 favorites]


If "powerusers" pay more to keep the rest of the net accessible, that's a good thing, no?
this is a bit of a talking point, I think. Why should TV be a "power user" thing? If you give TV a priority over other traffic, you skew the market so that instead of inventing better ways to transmit video over the net and trying to compete with a service that will *always* be faster, innovation goes where it can compete on a level playing field. Instead of launches like Hulu and iPlayer, you end up with a dead market.

What examples like your show is the need for more bandwidth. If you want to charge users who use a lot of it more, then do exactly that: charge them for bandwidth used. That has countless bonuses: it spurs the invention of more efficient codecs, and it reins in torrent-happy mega-users.

There are no "special services", it is all just bits. There is *nothing* they are talking about that can't be characterized as an "Internet service": not gaming, nor educational apps, nor health apps, nor TV and definitely not voip. It's all bits. The internet gets better when we treat them as such.
posted by bonaldi at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


And so we begin the slow march from cable internet to internet cable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2010 [30 favorites]


To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible deliver it for a premium

FTFT
posted by Joe Beese at 1:17 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


That's the kind of phrasing that makes me stop reading immediately.

That much is obvious, since you're having the exact same knee-jerk reaction everyone else has without actually knowing anything about what is being proposed here.
posted by signalnine at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


From Google's blog post:
This means that for the first time, wireline broadband providers would not be able to discriminate against or prioritize lawful Internet content, applications or services in a way that causes harm to users or competition.(emphasis added)
I see a whole bunch of weaselwords in there. The scariest is "lawful Internet content". How the fuck is Verizon going to know whether a given packet is "lawful"? Are the jackasses just going to block bittorrent? These principles allow them to blacklist any websites or services that any ISP believes is "unlawful". This seems designed to place internet carriage directly under the FCC's thumb. Any nascent Howard Stern's, George Carlin's, or Lenny Bruce's could easily find themselves kicked off the internet by the nasty bluenoses running that joint.
posted by jenkinsEar at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


Things are changing so fast that we could still accept it when a publicly traded company can have "Do No Evil" as there little slogan tag line, and people will actually, really believe them.

Corporations have no ethics. Or, they have a separate, completely different, completely alien ethic. I'm coming to think that it's a monstrous crime that they are allowed to operate as political agents in society. (Or even in The Market) They are like genius two-year-olds with super human strength.

Or like Trelane in that old Star Trek episode but the parents never show up.
posted by Trochanter at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2010 [16 favorites]


yikes! "there little slogan." what a moran.
posted by Trochanter at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2010


Argyle is right -- this is nothing new, there have been non-"Internet" data pipelines for a long time and will continue to be. If you're on Comcast Internet & TV, these are two very different services, and Comcast charges more for the TV traffic and gives it priority over Internet traffic (well, technically they're just separate, but the TV traffic doesn't interfere with your Net speeds or vice versa). This is not related to "Net neutrality" unless you view the existance of cable TV a threat to Net Neutrality (doubtless some do, somehow).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Offering TV and other "specialized" services over the Internet for a fee wouldn't necessarily undermine Net Neutrality in my view. Netflix on Demand isn't free either. To take it even further, there's an argument to be made that such services already make the Internet less accessible to those of us who aren't using it by sucking up precious bandwidth. If "powerusers" pay more to keep the rest of the net accessible, that's a good thing, no?

The description of these theoretical specialized services is pretty fuzzy, but I think the danger is if service providers use them to lock customers into their own proprietary content at the expensive of competing open services.

Today, you just need general Internet access which you can use for Netflix, online games, VOIP, or any other purpose. Service providers are pressured to give customers unmetered high speed connections to make all of those services work. If service providers start moving those types of services off of the general Internet and into special premium services, then they may be able to provide great speeds and unlimited usage for those particular services, while degrading the quality of the general "open" Internet. The end result would be that, unlike today where any new website can open and provide new high quality services, only the big players in the premium walled garden would be able to provide the required level of quality.

Imagine what the Internet would be like now if 10 years ago AOL and Yahoo had announced that the "open" Internet would still be available via dial-up but that high bandwidth content like full motion video would be provided via new high speed premium services.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:23 PM on August 9, 2010 [24 favorites]


It's interesting that they feel the need to do this publically. Most of these sorts of things happen behind closed doors, the doors of senior civil servents, particularly. Look at how Hollywood and the big content factories have handled copyright, for example. Everything is a state secret (literally! Compare the ACTA porcess.) until the final terms are presented.

Here, Verison and Google are trying to stake out a public position, against the content factories, presumably.
posted by bonehead at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2010


There are no "special services", it is all just bits. There is *nothing* they are talking about that can't be characterized as an "Internet service": not gaming, nor educational apps, nor health apps, nor TV and definitely not voip. It's all bits. The internet gets better when we treat them as such.

Nice theory, but completely untrue.

Not everything is on the internet. There are tons of private networks with peering arrangement that exist outside of the internet itself. You think your bank communicates with other banks over the open internet? You think the Fortune 500 uses the internet to span the globe or use private networks for security and sustainable bandwidth? Even Google overbuilds the internet with it's own private network get faster response times.

Many services exist outside the open internet, TV services especially so. The networks that deliver "cable TV" to Verizon & AT&T subscribers are completely private and are able to employ QoS methods to make sure it works. Are you saying that companies shouldn't be allowed private networks and be able to charge for access to them?

So lay off the 'it's all just bits' reductio ad absurdum and accept everything is not a simple as you want it to be...
posted by Argyle at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The "nothing new here" commenters are making the mistake of thinking that this is about technology, or even entirely about business. It's not. It's about politics — and in that respect it is highly significant. It's a shot across the FCC's bows, in which Google and Verizon attempt to seize the moral high ground while establishing loopholes around deliberately vague terms such as "new services [that] it is too soon to predict."

Hint: in politics, people don't put out incredibly detailed statements like this for no reason, to assert the same principles as before.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:28 PM on August 9, 2010 [12 favorites]


Sigh. Yet another mechanism of control to get around...
posted by Pastabagel at 1:28 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


My knee is jerking far more over Verizon's involvement than Google abandoning "don't be evil". After a few years as a Verizon customer, I felt like their motto was "be evil". Wireless companies are all out to get your money, but $0.10 to get a photo off my phone was egregious.
posted by immlass at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Can someone, instead of simply shitting their pants and screaming, use words to draw an explicit connection between the agreement and some expected harm for internet users?
posted by Jpfed at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2010 [10 favorites]


Meanwhile, a careful read also shows that neither company lied to the press.

Here's the original NYTimes article referenced by the Guardian
At least nine times in the last seven weeks — including Wednesday, with another meeting scheduled for Thursday — a group that includes Google, Verizon, AT&T, Skype, cable system operators and a group called the Open Internet Coalition has met with top F.C.C. officials to discuss net neutrality and the agency’s legal basis for regulating Internet service.
It's a shot across the FCC's bows, in which Google and Verizon attempt to seize the moral high ground while establishing loopholes around deliberately vague terms such as "new services [that] it is too soon to predict."

The FCC seems to have been aware of the Google/Verizon discussions. They may even be supporting them. Read the NY Times article to find out why.
posted by zarq at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can someone, instead of simply shitting their pants and screaming, use words to draw an explicit connection between the agreement and some expected harm for internet users?

This is MeFi, we don't do that here...
posted by Argyle at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's a shot across the FCC's bows

The FCC is not carrying out its regulatory function, and so Google and Verizon are filling in the regulatory vacuum with backroom-negotiated deals. Once entrenched, they will be difficult to legislate.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's almost as though they're only in it for the money!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The more I think about this, the more its clear this is NOTHING new. This is exactly how U-Verse works --- you get one data pipe, but its fed from 2 sources -- their TV backends and the Internet. THey can use QOS to shape the traffic. THats exactly what Verizon is talking about.

As a thought experiment for those who think this is bad in some way --- say I have a LAN not connected to the Internet. THats OK, right? Now I add a few friends and make it a private WAN. Still OK? How many friends do I have to add before it becomes evil to you? Is it only when I start charging? Or do you think I have to make it open to everyone if I add anyone at all? Because what we're talking about, and what AT&T has been doing for years, is a private WAN from your ISP that rides on the same line as your Internet connection.
posted by wildcrdj at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


My two cents: Google is looking at the carriers and thinking, "They have a winning hand. They built the lines. They're not going to continue watching other people -- like Google -- make money over what they think are their lines. We have to make friends with someone or else, at best, we'll cause someone to win a Pyrrhic victory."

Verizon is thinking, "We have a winning hand, but it can turn to shit in an instant if Google decides to fight this tooth and nail. If we don't make friends with someone like Google, we'll win a Pyrrhic victory."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


For the longest time, I've defended Google to friends and strangers who expressed paranoid/cynical sentiments about "all corporations". I had a good run. I'm now worried my good run has come to an end. Damn. Every time I try not to be a cynic I'm punished. I think the world really, really, really wants me to be a cynical misanthrope. Oh well.
posted by VikingSword at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2010


you're having the exact same knee-jerk reaction everyone else has without actually knowing anything about what is being proposed here

Tell it to publicknowledge.org - "a Washington DC based public interest group working to defend your rights in the emerging digital culture":

This agreement would, among other things, allow Verizon to prioritize applications and content at whim over its mobile broadband network. In the absence of clear FCC authority, we can expect to see more deals like this in the near term. The largest telephone and cable companies and the largest web companies will carve up the Internet as they see fit, deciding who gets access to the Internet’s fast lane while the rest of us are stuck in the slow lane.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry... that last bit was a response to game warden to the events rhino.
posted by zarq at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2010


Can someone, instead of simply shitting their pants and screaming, use words to draw an explicit connection between the agreement and some expected harm for internet users?

Pope Guilty's comment summarizes what the issue is for everyday Internet users, in terms of what the net could look like in the next couple decades.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fourth, because of the confusion about the FCC’s authority following the Comcast court decision, our proposal spells out the FCC’s role and authority in the broadband space. In addition to creating enforceable consumer protection and nondiscrimination standards that go beyond the FCC’s preexisting consumer safeguards, the proposal also provides for a new enforcement mechanism for the FCC to use. Specifically, the FCC would enforce these openness policies on a case-by-case basis, using a complaint-driven process. The FCC could move swiftly to stop a practice that violates these safeguards, and it could impose a penalty of up to $2 million on bad actors.

So they're saying they saved the receipts for the FCC and Congressmembers to get this done?
posted by dilettante at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not everything is on the internet.

We're talking about internet service providers, and services provided over their broadband networks, whether wired or wireless. So, at risk of total tautology, yes, everything here is on the internet.

Are you saying that companies shouldn't be allowed private networks and be able to charge for access to them?

That's not what this proposal is talking about. It's talking about using the same network as broadband.
Therefore, our proposal would allow broadband providers to offer additional, differentiated online services, in addition to the Internet access
is what the proposal says. That's not a cable TV network, or a bank's leased line. It's allowing service provides to differentiate services -- including things like gaming -- merely because they're "non-traditional".

I know you're desperate to do that blase net thing of being the first one to dismiss the boy as crying wolf, but sometimes there actually is a wolf. So lay off the corporate defensiveness and accept everything is not as positive as you'd insist it should be ...
posted by bonaldi at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The FCC is not carrying out its regulatory function,

The FCC, (as the New York Times article I just linked to indicates,) seems to be trying to determine its jurisdiction. It is doing so by holding meetings with major players in the internet and mobile telecommunications industries.

This is not common. The FDA does the same thing when a new technology appears which alters our understanding of what should and should not be restricted by law. See this FPP I posted a while back for an example of them feeling their way forward on applied stem cell therapies.

and so Google and Verizon are filling in the regulatory vacuum with backroom-negotiated deals. Once entrenched, they will be difficult to legislate.

I believe you are mischaracterizing what is happening here.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Crap. That should be "This is not uncommon."
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"That's not what this proposal is talking about. It's talking about using the same network as broadband."

Which is absolutely nothing new. Why did no one complain when AT&T started doing this years ago? Because they didnt make a public announcement about it and just talked about how they could now give you TV over your broadband line?
posted by wildcrdj at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2010


Yep, not suggesting this was secret or hidden from the FCC or anything. Perhaps "shot across bows" is the wrong metaphor. My point is, this is seriously important (and troubling) power-play designed to gain an advantage over potential opposition, public or otherwise, and the people in this thread who are coming up with long, intricate technological arguments involving LANs and WANs and FIOS and QOS to show that it's nothing new are missing the point completely.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2010


And so we begin the slow march from cable internet to internet cable.

This. A million times this.

I think the average telco executive probably has a fantasy about the future of the internet being something like cable: .i.e, there are roughly 500 major websites, and they account for 95% of all traffic. Filesharing is either illegal or deeply underground. Telcos get a cut of everything that happens -- they get a monetary amount for every video played, every email sent, every song purchased, every game played.

They're looking at the internet as it currently is and asking themselves: "Why are we giving away theoretically infinite bandwidth to our customers for $60/month when we can chop up the internet and serve it to them in little chunks for whatever we think is a good price?"
posted by Azazel Fel at 1:39 PM on August 9, 2010 [13 favorites]


Cowboy came riding into his old hometown, kicking up dust, past the rickety sign saying, "Welcome to Deadwood, Pop. 0x8F".

"Hey, mister. You can't bring that horse in here." A feller in a black shirt, black hat, black pants, holding a shiny star steps up.

Cowboy say, "Beg pardon?"

"Your horse ain't branded."

"No, it ain't."

"Ain't been branded, ain't been inspected. Might be carryin' anythin'."

"It's carryin' me, friend. And I'm carryin' the mail."

"Don't know nothing about that, mister. I can't see where your horse come from 'cause it ain't got no brand, and I don't know where you're going cause you ain't got no star like mine sayin' where you kin go. You'll have to get inspection. Back of the corral to the north."

"I aim to get home, friend. Ain't interested in no inspection, no brand, and I certainly ain't interested in no shiny star. I'm goin' to ride past you, or over you, 'pending on whether you step back or not."

"Wouldn't do that if I were you, mister."

"Giddap!"

[derezz FX]
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:40 PM on August 9, 2010 [11 favorites]


Pope Guilty's comment summarizes what the issue is for everyday Internet users, in terms of what the net could look like in the next couple decades.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:35 PM on August 9 [+] [!]


Please use words to draw an explicit connection between the actual agreement and some expected harm to users.
posted by Jpfed at 1:40 PM on August 9, 2010


Someone at Google and Verizon clearly needs their heads examined over this deal. Even if it is a great deal, it looks and smells like total crap. Verizon apparently surrendered something of value to Google, so their shareholders will dump all over them and Google just gave their marketing and PR teams a boat anchor and asked them to swim over the North Atlantic in January. I think this demolishes Google's brand value with a core group (developers and nerds). The agreement is so long that no one can understand it and it is full of the normal legal exclusions that can be read in a negative light. Plus the whole denial and then coming out with it just makes it look like a secret conspiracy of evil players.
posted by humanfont at 1:41 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jpfed, try this: It's the 2012 Olympics. I'm watching them live at home with Verizon FiOS. You on the other hand have That Other ISP and you can't watch them live, perhaps you can't watch them at all.
posted by tommasz at 1:43 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jpfed, try this: It's the 2012 Olympics. I'm watching them live at home with Verizon FiOS. You on the other hand have That Other ISP and you can't watch them live, perhaps you can't watch them at all.
posted by tommasz at 3:43 PM on August 9 [+] [!]


That's closer to what I'm asking for, except I'm also asking for what chain of causation might lead to that result, which I think a lot of people in this thread have either glossed over or assumed is obvious. It's not obvious to me.

Ideally, that chain of causation would be illustrated with references to stuff that's actually in the agreement rather than secondhand interpretations or extrapolations.
posted by Jpfed at 1:46 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Which is absolutely nothing new. Why did no one complain when AT&T started doing this years ago? Because they didnt make a public announcement about it and just talked about how they could now give you TV over your broadband line?

Because they didn't say "let's enshrine in law the idea that we'll be able to charge schools more to use services we create as 'special educational services' instead of us competing over the internet with everybody else interested in creating educational services" or "allow us to do a deal with Microsoft so that XBox 3 Live requires a Verizon FiOS net connection and will be dog-slow on any other network".
posted by bonaldi at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Future adcopy circa 2015: "Facebook: Now available exclusively on Verizon! If you wan't Facebook, you need Verizon! Verizon is home to all of your favorite websites!"
posted by Azazel Fel at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2010 [7 favorites]


Facebook: Now available exclusively on Verizon! If you wan't Facebook, you need Verizon! Verizon is home to all of your favorite websites special services!
posted by bonaldi at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I still don't understand why QoS is bad. Providers that respect QoS bits make my VoIP work better.

I guess I'd be miffed if I were on the bad end of that stick, though.
posted by wierdo at 1:49 PM on August 9, 2010


Please use words to draw an explicit connection between the actual agreement and some expected harm to users.

I think Pope Guilty's comment spells it out pretty well, but I'll put it into words: Google and Verizon have agreed in principle that you, the end user will, pay more for InternetPlus!™, while the "Internet" remains open.

But this language itself is troubling:

"[B]ecause of the confusion about the FCC’s authority following the Comcast court decision, our proposal spells out the FCC’s role and authority"

There is demonstrable harm from corporations carrying out the work of the federal government, deciding what the laws will be or how they will be enforced. In an open democracy, businesses — including Google and Verizon — should not be "spelling out" or deciding in any way, shape or form what a regulatory agency should be doing on behalf of the public.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [15 favorites]


For me this proposal's evil moment isn't talk of segregated commercial tiers. As long as they're not conceptually bundled with the provision of Internet service, paid walled gardens have always been okay. What's evil is the lifting of neutrality rules for any plain-vanilla Internet that happens to come directly over the air. Google bases the exception on "the still-nascent nature of the wireless broadband marketplace", as if that means anything foundational. If cable ISPs in 1998 shouldn't have been able to tier content and still call it broadband Internet access, 4G carriers shouldn't be able to do it in 2010.
posted by Municipal Hare at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jpfed, try this: It's the 2012 Olympics. I'm watching them live at home with Verizon FiOS. You on the other hand have That Other ISP and you can't watch them live, perhaps you can't watch them at all.

Oh you mean like how I was able to stream the World Cup this year because I have Comcast and my buddy who's on Qwest wasn't because Comcast has a partnership with ESPN and Qwest doesn't?
posted by signalnine at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The carriers have built (highly subsidized) toll-roads. Now they want to know what's in the trucks. Google is proposing transparent trucks.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:51 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Surely that two-page document is far too vague to be any basis for discussion? There is no definition of "broadband Internet access services" as opposed to the future premium services. Television over IP could be regarded as a broadband Internet service, yet it's presumably the kind of thing they have in mind for the paid-for premiums.

At least it appears to have little impact on the actual global internet. Americans may be getting paywalls for premium web content, but that's perhaps not too different from the severe region blocking that is currently screwing up the majority of 'legal' high bandwidth content (Hulu, BBC iPlayer).

The biggest issue, IMO, is that little word: "lawful". Under this proposal, it seems the ISPs would be required to block any content deemed unlawful. Taking a recent example, I take that to mean that American broadband providers would be bound to block Wikileaks. And what about the other way around.. if your kid finds a torrent file, can you sue the ISP for sending unlawful content?
posted by Harry at 1:52 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Any nascent Howard Stern's, George Carlin's, or Lenny Bruce's "

Any nascent Howard Stern's, George Carlin's, or Lenny Bruce's what?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:54 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


Oh you mean like how I was able to stream the World Cup this year because I have Comcast and my buddy who's on Qwest wasn't because Comcast has a partnership with ESPN and Qwest doesn't?

Yes, that. Except extended massively with state approval (if this agreement were adopted) for an effectively limitless range of internet services, including many things you can't even conceive of yet.

Surely that two-page document is far too vague to be any basis for discussion?

The vagueness is the point.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2010


signalnine, that's exactly the point. Google's announcement today amounts to the admission that they're perfectly okay with ESPN/Comcast's partnership and see no reason to throw their weight around and do anything about it.
posted by jacobian at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2010


In an open democracy, businesses — including Google and Verizon — should not be "spelling out" or deciding in any way, shape or form what a regulatory agency should be doing on behalf of the public.

Why not? They are stakeholders. They shouldn't be, and aren't, the only voice, but they have as much right to put out a position paper as anyone. They seem to be taking this step to steal a march on the FTC, but they're still trying to have a debate, rather than sneak ammendments into legislation like the copyright weasels do.
posted by bonehead at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2010


google is betting on the mobweb and covering the only remaining open market. All the rest is cheap opensource
posted by infini at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jpfed, try this: It's the 2012 Olympics. I'm watching them live at home with Verizon FiOS. You on the other hand have That Other ISP and you can't watch them live, perhaps you can't watch them at all.

This is a terrible example. It's akin to saying that I you should be able to stream movies through the NetFlix service without paying the monthly subscription. It has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:00 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


It sounds like they're just laying the groundwork for selling movies, TV shows and other copyrighted material over the 'Net to me.

Right. But that groundwork is under the "additional, differentiated online services". HTML 5 video? that's new and differentiated from existing traffic.

It is too soon to predict how these new services will develop, but examples might include health care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options.

And I'm sure gaming 'services' like steam or xbox live will be classified as 'new services' - just add a bit of QoS and boom - new differentiated gaming zone.


Not sure if I'm being devil's advocate here or what, but obviously, something's gotta give.

Why does something have to give? What's 'giving' beside the telecoms ability to charge people more like a cable company?


So lay off the 'it's all just bits' reductio ad absurdum and accept everything is not a simple as you want it to be...

Of course this is all just bits. There are no new "additional, differentiated online services" they're rolling out to the masses - just repackaged existing services. They aren't talking about dropping leased lines, why would you reach for that? Business already have SLAs and such for their data lines - this isn't business focused. This is tiered internet, just like that old spoof picture. QoS is a red herring - the issue with QoS is that telecoms here haven't built out like they should have. Rather than fund a large upgrade to equipment, they will make more profit with a tiered model using existing equipment.

And it's crap that google wants to deal with the devil to protect its own traffic.
posted by anti social order at 2:01 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The biggest issue, IMO, is that little word: "lawful". Under this proposal, it seems the ISPs would be required to block any content deemed unlawful. Taking a recent example, I take that to mean that American broadband providers would be bound to block Wikileaks. And what about the other way around.. if your kid finds a torrent file, can you sue the ISP for sending unlawful content?

Right now they use the common -carrier defense - they don't knwo what the traffic is, so how could they block it. With this, they will know a lot more. I'm interested how they propose to get around that issue.
posted by anti social order at 2:04 PM on August 9, 2010


game warden to the events rhino wrote: "Yes, that. Except extended massively with state approval (if this agreement were adopted) for an effectively limitless range of internet services, including many things you can't even conceive of yet."

Except that the example given has absolutely nothing to do with net neutrality and everything to do with your ISP paying someone so that you can have access to content behind a pay wall. Or should I not be able to set up a web server that only allows access to certain people? I should have to let anybody use the proxy I set up to allow my sister access to Hulu? WTF?
posted by wierdo at 2:04 PM on August 9, 2010


gwtter: The vagueness is the point.

It's a policy statement -- a declaration of principles.

Unless I'm wildly mistaken, that means that this blog post from Google is not a binding legal agreement between them and Verizon. Therefore, no specificity is required.

Blazecock Pileon: There is demonstrable harm from corporations carrying out the work of the federal government, deciding what the laws will be or how they will be enforced. In an open democracy, businesses — including Google and Verizon — should not be "spelling out" or deciding in any way, shape or form what a regulatory agency should be doing on behalf of the public.

I am pretty sure that companies do this all the time. They either take actions which push the envelope legally, or come out with a policy statement like this that defines what they believe the law to be. When the government regulatory body disagrees, they take action. The government send letters, makes demands, they impose fines, fees or initiate lawsuits. In extreme cases, they shut down businesses by pulling their right to operate.
posted by zarq at 2:08 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Right. But that groundwork is under the "additional, differentiated online services". HTML 5 video? that's new and differentiated from existing traffic.

There are no new "additional, differentiated online services" they're rolling out to the masses - just repackaged existing services.

They're not saying that at all. That would be part of it. They use things like FIOS TV, things that are on the pipe, but not on the Internet, as services. All the stuff going through your Internet connection would have the same priority, it'd just be less than the priority of the digital TV that Verizon is providing, which is the type of additional service they're talking about.

Verizon looks to be worried about two things. A) Not being able to put things like an on demand video service and telephone service on a higher priority than the Internet, and B) people sucking down all of their wireless bandwidth. I'm sympathetic to the former but not the later. Wireless is limited, but they just need to keep building out.
posted by zabuni at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2010


And it's crap that google wants to deal with the devil to protect its own traffic.

Did you forget this part?

“Under the principles, there is no prioritization of traffic that comes from Google over the Internet, period,” he said. It is not entirely clear how these new services would work, but Mr. Schmidt said that Google has no plans to offer any of these enhanced services.
posted by zabuni at 2:11 PM on August 9, 2010


Blazecock Pileon: "I think Pope Guilty's comment spells it out pretty well, but I'll put it into words: Google and Verizon have agreed in principle that you, the end user will, pay more for InternetPlus!™, while the "Internet" remains open."

This sounds a lot like AOL circa 1997. As memory serves, over time everyone abandoned InternetPlus for its general hokiness and lack of usability ... why won't that happen here?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2010


@signalnine Yes. More crap in exactly that flavor.

@jpfed No. But not because there isn't one. The major thing that the designers of the Internet got right is that they designed for extensibility and experiment. Similar to how the major thing the designers of the Constitution got right is that they put in mechanisms to allow it to change over time.

This agreement smells of an agreement which would allow all the services that you currently think of as "the Internet" to keep working, but could prevent new services from being developed and (especially) deployed. This is a hard thing to argue, of course. Arguing that companies should behave in non-optimal ways NOW because if they do they will probably make more money LATER because someone will think up another application and more people will want to use the companies' services and networks is a tough sell. Imagine trying to sell the Internet to the phone companies in 1985. That doesn't make it untrue (investing a very little bit in Microsoft and Oracle in 1985 would make you a very wealthy man today), it just makes it a tough sell.
posted by pmb at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2010


And it's crap that google wants to deal with the devil to protect its own traffic.

Google says it is not planning to offer enhanced services. Google also says that this policy statement does not give them any advantage or priority over other carriers. There is a specific non-discrimination requirement.
posted by zarq at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


All the stuff going through your Internet connection would have the same priority, it'd just be less than the priority of the digital TV that Verizon is providing, which is the type of additional service they're talking about.

The document is wooly as hell, but it's at least clear that this is not the type of service they're talking about. It'd possibly seem more reasonable if it were, but the examples they give are all of a different character.

It's surprising that people would give them the benefit of the doubt on this. Mobile carriers have already shown exactly how they would run a wired network if given the chance. Vodafone is surely not alone in installing special apps to access "internet" data on the phone, then crippling the actual internet. Facebook: Fast, custom app. Twitter: dead slow, no app.

You can dress just about anything up as a "special service" and give it better treatment than that pesky competitive internet. But, hey, this document gives the FCC power to issue an immediate "report" that this has happened. It doesn't have any power to do anything about it, though, its powers are limited to other areas.
posted by bonaldi at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


Ya all are gonna go get upset and then go back to using 'em/paying 'em. Let me know when you have an alternative to Google/the Google integration to Google resources on the Android platform.

Just like you do with Sony. Or AT&T. Or Apple. Or Microsoft. Or .....

(Sony - DMCA/content DRM. AT&T - telco spying thing. Apple - Apps on iPhone/iPad, media DRM Perhaps flash. Microsoft - pricefixing)


How the fuck is Verizon going to know whether a given packet is "lawful"?

Check the evil bit of course.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:16 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


As memory serves, over time everyone abandoned InternetPlus for its general hokiness and lack of usability ... why won't that happen here?

Because now it is all the providers, and not only one provider, that consider the walled garden approach preferable.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:17 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pope Guilty: "Because now it is all the providers, and not only one provider, that consider the walled garden approach preferable."

What of CompuServ et al et al? If information really wants to be free then, at the end of the day, won't it migrate to the non-discrimatory network? Admittedly, I'd be upset if the agreement didn't set out a specific non-discrimination clause with regard to most of the Internet, but I don't see how "we'll offer you some super-duper streaming video" is, at the very least, all that much different from the status quo.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2010


The largest telephone and cable companies and the largest web companies will carve up the Internet as they see fit, deciding who gets access to the Internet’s fast lane while the rest of us are stuck in the slow lane.

If I want to be on the 'net I pay for the space/power/hardware to be there and then the bits.

The "big boys"? They pay for the space/power/hardware and then they enter into peering agreements 'I won't charge you for your bits if you don't charge me for my bits'. Google buying dark fiber, being at co-lo's, and having content means they don't pay for bandwidth like the rest of us.

So its already carved up, and you don't get a place at the peering table.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:23 PM on August 9, 2010


2 small observations:

1. If Verizon is involved, it's unpossible for this not to be evil at the heart.

2. Why are they going to great lengths to differentiate between wired and wireless? And, more importantly, why are they willing to let wireless be more "corporately run"? Hmmmmmmm.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:25 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Azazel Fel: We're sorry, the page your looking for is unavailable due to content-provider contractual obligations. Please consider visiting the following verizon-friendly pages instead: meatlifter.com, metaWOW.com, awesomefilter.com, lolcats.cn, pepsi.com

I wish I was old school enough to be able to give an ANSI-middle finger about this -- but I'm never going to be sad to visit a site called meatlifter.com.

(does so)

Sadly not (yet) what it says on tin.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:26 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


And so we begin the slow march from cable internet to internet cable.

If you read more than just Blazecock's carefully chosen link and editorializing - like, say, the stuff zarq quotes - then it becomes a bit more apparent that the situation your image spells out is exactly what this agreement forbids.
posted by kafziel at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


"Facebook: Now available exclusively on Verizon! If you wan't Facebook, you need Verizon! Verizon is home to all of your favorite websites!"

Oh, like how The Smithsonian is built on Silverlight? Or how various content is in Flash?

If I want to see flash content I have to run a platform that Flash runs on.
posted by rough ashlar at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2010


There is so much misinformation and paranoia in this thread that I don't even know where to start.

There is not going to be a tiered Internet. As I said in the other thread, this is about voip, gaming, bittorrent and video and correctly prioritizing that traffic. No one is gonna start charging you for metafilter.
posted by empath at 2:34 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


.
posted by ambulance blues at 2:35 PM on August 9, 2010


I really wish this post had been framed differently. So many folks here have been commenting on what they think Google and Verizon have done, rather than what they actually did.

I wish it had included a link to the original New York Times article which accused Verizon and Google of forming a secret agreement which would allow them to bypass Net Neutrality. That article made assumptions which it now appears were patently untrue. Most importantly, a policy statement, discussion framework and declaration of principles is not a legally binding document.

The way the post was framed, it basically accused Google and Verizon of lying to the public about what they were doing. Looks like that was untrue, too.

I wish the post had also explained that the FCC has been holding negotiations for weeks with companies that have a stake in telecommunications and related internet industries, like Skype or AT&T, in order to try and determine what its regulatory role should be with regard to newer internet technologies and services. This was discussed in the original New York Times article.

I wish it had included a link to Google's Policy Blog, or the text of the Framework itself, which (among other things) would have explained that Google is not being given a priority over other content providers. The Framework has a non-discrimination clause! How much of this thread's discussion has been occupied with how this gives Google some sort of imagined leg up on their competition?

It's a shame, really.
posted by zarq at 2:41 PM on August 9, 2010 [9 favorites]


Why are they going to great lengths to differentiate between wired and wireless? And, more importantly, why are they willing to let wireless be more "corporately run"? Hmmmmmmm.

Perhaps because 59% of US adults now access the internet wirelessly using a laptop or cell phone*

And that number is only going to get larger.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:43 PM on August 9, 2010


This sounds a lot like AOL circa 1997. As memory serves, over time everyone abandoned InternetPlus for its general hokiness and lack of usability ... why won't that happen here?

In 1997 there were hundreds if not thousands of ISPs to compete with AOL, whereas now we have a few carriers with de facto local monopolies, each of which maintaining a strong opposition to Net Neutrality and an equally strong interest in charging more for the same services.

The "InternetPlus" will, by most appearances, be the same "Internet" with respect to content. The "unforeseeably new" services described in the press conference as examples — "[h]ealth care monitoring, the smart grid, advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options" — are already delivered to a significant extent over existing infrastructure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:44 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps because 59% of US adults now access the internet wirelessly using a laptop or cell phone*

They don't mean laptops (unless your laptop uses an airport card or 4G modem). Your home wireless router isn't part of this peering arrangement.
posted by zvs at 2:45 PM on August 9, 2010


This thread is kinda like a race to see who can make the fastest non-knee-jerk reaction.
posted by memebake at 2:46 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Man, I came here for a reasoned discussion of what all this entails, since the random few blogs I read were far from that. I'm really disappointed. :(
posted by flatluigi at 2:46 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


No one is gonna start charging you for metafilter

Then who got my five bucks??
posted by Joe Beese at 2:48 PM on August 9, 2010 [6 favorites]


How much of this thread's discussion has been occupied with how this gives Google some sort of imagined leg up on their competition?

Virtually none.
posted by bonaldi at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2010


Please use words to draw an explicit connection between the actual agreement and some expected harm to users.

How do we know what the actual agreement is? The meeting happened behind closed doors. There was no lawyer representing the public at large; not even a stooge pretending to do so. So, there's warning sign number one: corporations are getting together to propose laws. Only the most hopelessly ignorant capitalists would assume that they are doing it in the interests of anyone but themselves. If you don't consider motive when someone is trying to sell you something, especially legislation, you're just setting yourself up for failure. Most importantly, no one except those invited to the private meetings about our telecommunications infrastructure has any idea of what the long term goals are.

But let's look at just one phrase from the NYT article:
The proposal includes exceptions for wireless Internet access and for potential new services that broadband providers could offer, including things like “advanced educational services, or new entertainment and gaming options.”
It does not take a genius to see the future of the internet: a cantonized, corporate owned entity that simply redefines updates of existing services as "not the internet." I know some genuinely disturbed corporatist might say, "But you can choose not to buy those services!" I could also choose not to have electricity or running water or a car. The internet of 10 years from now will be no less essential to anyone who wants to be involved in the modern world. But I'll be damned if my inheritance of the technological improvements paid for by my grandparents and parents from the 1960s until now will be hijacked by a handful of people who want to fence off the last commons left for their own personal gain.

Let's remember the last time this happened: I was just a kid when NAFTA passed, and I remember the media portrayals of the nutcases who opposed free trade. How stupid could they be? Of course we want to trade with Mexico so they have better jobs. Only 18 years later can we see the true effects of legislation formulated behind closed doors with little mainstream coverage: more money for the people who drafted the rules, and everyone else can go fuck themselves.

The battle over the internet is hugely more important. The prospect of billions of people forming their own communities across state, ethnic, and spiritual lines is the biggest threat to the establishment in world history. People who want to share their work for cheap and their art for free are cutting out the middle men. Existing economic models simply don't work for ones and zeroes. Digital content has infinite demand, infinite supply, and virtually zero cost. That's a tough market to make money in.

The corporations are busy imagining how they can fuck that up. How can they divide and charge? How can we wall off people from content and charge them for this artificial separation? Picture half the services you used online ceasing to be free. Picture new services that are only offered wirelessly just so they can't be free.

This is just a tiny peek into the future. And this agreement is the foundation for those walls.
posted by atypicalguy at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2010 [18 favorites]


I still don't understand why QoS is bad.

Nothing wrong with charging for quality of service bandwidth. It's just that users should be paying for it, not content providers. If users pay for it, they get to select the content that they are interested in having high quality of service. If providers pay for it, they can squeeze out competing providers, thereby depriving the user a free choice of content.
posted by JackFlash at 2:57 PM on August 9, 2010


Will this affect my matter compiler?
posted by doublehappy at 3:00 PM on August 9, 2010


.

"There is not going to be a tiered Internet. As I said in the other thread, this is about *tier one* and correctly prioritizing that traffic. No one is gonna start charging you for *tier two*."
posted by vectr at 3:03 PM on August 9, 2010


Oh, like how The Smithsonian is built on Silverlight? Or how various content is in Flash?

No, it would be more like "The Smithsonian Institution Experience is a special service brought to you by AT&T and Microsoft" and that you could still access si.edu from other service providers, but only as an enormously stripped-down text-only website with just the operating hours and a bulleted list of their current exhibits. Maybe.

And, no, they didn't actually say that this is going to happen in the press conference, but they didn't need to. If you think of the internet as the Old West, the telcos and major content providers as railroad companies and cattle barons, respectively, then you can see how they would find walling-off the free-for-all frontier with land titles and barbed wire to be in their best interest.

I guess that's what this really is: the end of the Old Internet.
posted by Azazel Fel at 3:04 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Benny Andajetz wrote: "Why are they going to great lengths to differentiate between wired and wireless? "

Maybe this isn't commonly known, but they should be differentiated. They are completely different. There is a finite (and relatively small) amount of data capacity in a wireless network. It's farking slow, and there's not all that much that can be done about it because it's a limitation of physics, not money.
posted by wierdo at 3:05 PM on August 9, 2010


Future adcopy circa 2015: "Facebook: Now available exclusively on Verizon! If you wan't Facebook, you need Verizon! Verizon is home to all of your favorite websites!"

Facebook isn't terribly difficult to reproduce. Put Facebook behind a paywall and it's all over. Besides, why would Facebook want to be behind a paywall? They're printing money as is.

No, they just don't want to pay Verizon for the privilege of existing.

So, more likely, it'll be "Get FacebookSuperDuperFeature exclusively on Verizon." Which you can choose to pay for. Or not. Verizon isn't going to come in the dead of night and steal your wallet. You'll choose to open it for them. Or not.

Besides ... the Internet will keep speeding up for the next several decades. Wait until you're paying ... exactly what you're paying now ... to an ISP in Costa Rica ... offering you blazing-fast speed.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:05 PM on August 9, 2010


Why not? They are stakeholders. They shouldn't be, and aren't, the only voice, but they have as much right to put out a position paper as anyone.

If Google and Verizon were non-profit think-tanks or academic research centers, I would agree. However, they are huge businesses, essentially arguing to be the regulators of the regulators of their respective domains, over which they have significant market control and perhaps, arguably, undue commercial and political influence.

Right or wrong, their "voice", as such, has been carried a bit further than the voice of the public. To the extent that their actions may set the framework for future regulation and legislation that affect millions of Americans, it seems their present-day activities and words might bear close observation, tight scrutiny and public discussion (of which there has been little).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


like, say, the stuff zarq quotes - then it becomes a bit more apparent that the situation your image spells out is exactly what this agreement forbids.

Their stated goal: "Users should choose what content, applications, or devices they use, since openness has been central to the explosive innovation that has made the Internet a transformative medium."

Their stated goal is that you can choose what services to buy. No more, no less.

They used to push for net neutrality (see item #1) but now seem to have added a big fat "services" loophole.
posted by anti social order at 3:08 PM on August 9, 2010


why would Facebook want to be behind a paywall?

I'm sure they wouldn't want to be behind a paywall. They probably won't volunteer for it. Eventually, though, some telco exec will march into Zuckerbergs office, tell him that his users are using up way too much bandwidth and that it's time to make a deal because wouldn't it be unfortunate if Facebook suddenly didn't load on 100 million browsers around the country anymore. That would be a real sob story, right Mugsy? he might say to his partner in 1930's Chicago-gangster-voice.
posted by Azazel Fel at 3:13 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


JackFlash wrote: "Nothing wrong with charging for quality of service bandwidth. It's just that users should be paying for it, not content providers. If users pay for it, they get to select the content that they are interested in having high quality of service. If providers pay for it, they can squeeze out competing providers, thereby depriving the user a free choice of content."

Who, then, shall tag it on the content provider's end? QoS doesn't do my VoIP a lot of good if it's only in one direction.

I'd rather nobody pay a separate charge for QoS and we develop sensible rules, like voice going first. Unfortunately, the net neutrality crowd would leave a steaming pile in their britches if the idea was even talked about seriously.

What I find most ridiculous about this uproar is that we lost the battle a long time ago. We were completely fucked the day the FCC decided to cease requiring unbundling. The lack of competition on the wire to your house is a much bigger threat than anything that'll happen across the open Internet.
posted by wierdo at 3:15 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have something to say about this, but it's over my bandwidth, so I'm having it delivered to you on a CD-R via a bike messenger.
posted by fuq at 3:16 PM on August 9, 2010


I adsense a great disturbance in the force.
posted by srboisvert at 3:17 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


Eric Schmidt: “Frankly, if they were to choose to degrade it, other competitors would enter the market. But of course, they’ve promised not to do that anyway..."

Somehow, I find it unbelievable that Schmidt could be this naive. They promised not to? I'll leave that one alone. As for competitors entering the market, since when has anybody been able to compete with the Cable/DSL monopolies? They own the fiber, so unless you plan on laying your own wires down, which is a multi-billion dollar job, and a foolhardy one at, that there's no current way to compete.
posted by tybeet at 3:25 PM on August 9, 2010


It's a shame this post was rushed, it's missing the right links because they weren't available at the time of posting. And the post itself contains a lot of misleading framing. Fortunately Argyle in the comments up above covered the actual proposal pretty well. Full net neutrality for Internet delivered via broadband wires. Wireless broadband and "new online services" may involve partnerships and traffic discrimination. Network management decisions (both wired and wireless) will be disclosed to consumers.

The good news here is Verizon is saying, in writing, they will stop messing with Internet traffic. The bad news is that Google is apparently giving up on net neutrality for wireless networks. That's a real shame. Right now network bandwidth is limited but that won't be true forever; the wireless situation today is analagous to 20 years ago when anything faster than a 14kbps modem was exotic.
posted by Nelson at 3:30 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, this thread is depressing. The number of mefites who transparently haven't got a fucking clue what they are talking about, but who have driven each other into hysterics over this is shocking to me.

Prioritizing video and voice traffic over web traffic isn't tiering the internet, it's how the internet is SUPPOSED to work. A half second delay in downloading http packets isn't going to wreck the website. A half second delay in a phone call or streaming video ruins it.

That's all this is about. Please stop running around screaming about the sky falling. It isn't. The internet is going to be better and more useful because of this.
posted by empath at 3:31 PM on August 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder if we can blame Apple, since they've so resoundingly proved that a walled garden means "profit."

(he types from his iPad)
posted by zoogleplex at 3:32 PM on August 9, 2010


Eventually, though, some telco exec will march into Zuckerbergs office, tell him that his users are using up way too much bandwidth and that it's time to make a deal because wouldn't it be unfortunate if Facebook suddenly didn't load on 100 million browsers around the country anymore.

But that eventuality has basically been possible with the current state of affairs - with no regulation or agreements in place. Bandwidth providers have been threatening to take this approach already. It seems to me that this framework would, if agreed to by bandwidth providers, reduce or eliminate this possibility.

Right or wrong, their "voice", as such, has been carried a bit further than the voice of the public.

Google's been pushing for net neutrality for some time, but the "voice of the public" - the FCC and the legislature - doesn't seem to be in their favor anyway. So to me, an agreement that attempts to guarantee net neutrality for existing services seems better than the current alternative - again, if bandwidth providers agree to it.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:35 PM on August 9, 2010


Prioritizing video and voice traffic over web traffic isn't tiering the internet, it's how the internet is SUPPOSED to work.

[citation required]

Please stop running around screaming about the sky falling. It isn't

[Trust in Google and Verizon required]

The internet is going to be better and more useful because of this.

[Some special pills/a job in California at a major content company/ignorance of the disastrous history of self-regulation required]
posted by bonaldi at 3:41 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


[Some actual evidence of how this an example of self-regulation required]
posted by zarq at 3:45 PM on August 9, 2010


[Some actual evidence of how this an example of self-regulation required]
When you write the rules that will govern you, and utterly defang the government regulator in the process, there's no practical difference between calling it FCC regulation and calling it the Internet Big Boy Regulation Body.
posted by bonaldi at 3:49 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I see happening in the long term is the development of parallel Internets, ones that vastly exceed the current one with capacities and speeds. These new Internets will be locked into proprietary services by corporate vendors (entertainment services that even Google predicts), while the current Internet is left to stagnate, or rot, if you will. While it won't degrade, it sure as shit will seem like it's degrading relative to these newer services. That is exactly the kind of thing Net Neutrality advocates have been trying to prevent, is it not?
posted by tybeet at 3:49 PM on August 9, 2010


So internet providers reserve the right to charge more for television or similar "premium" content delivered over a separate internet network, while (current) conventional broadband will remain basically the way it is. Wireless is not being addressed, because future bandwidth consumption will continue to increase, and no one knows how to address this issue yet.

Am I totally wrong, here?
posted by KokuRyu at 3:55 PM on August 9, 2010


I guess I'm not alone in seeing it that way.

The deal would allow ISPs to effectively split the Internet into "two pipes" -- one of which would be reserved for "managed services," a pay-for-pay platform for content and applications. This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.

posted by tybeet at 3:57 PM on August 9, 2010


Google and Verizon's net neutrality proposal explained

Now, we don't know for sure what happened, but we've got a theory: the proposal reads to us like Verizon's basically agreeing to trade neutrality on its wired networks for the right to control its wireless network any way it wants -- apart from requiring wireless carriers and ISPs to be "transparent" about network management, none of the neutrality principles that govern wired networks will apply to wireless networks. That's a big deal -- it's pretty obvious that wireless broadband will be the defining access technology for the next generation of devices and services. But you know us, and we don't do hysterics when we can do reasoned analysis instead -- so grab a copy of the official Verizon / Google Legislative Framework Proposal right here and let's break it down step by step, shall we?
posted by Artw at 4:05 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Given the telcos' and cable companies' general loathing of the idea of laying more pipe, any deal in which the existing bandwidth gets cut up is going to make every "service" that doesn't bribe the telco to put them in the fast lane is going to be squeezed out.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:05 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you, nomadicink.
posted by zarq at 4:05 PM on August 9, 2010


The number of mefites who transparently haven't got a fucking clue what they are talking about,

Good Salon piece on why we should worry.

There's an awful lot of tiresome more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger handwaving in this thread from people who seem to think that their superior technical knowledge makes them experts in the political question that's at stake here. Unfortunately in mainly seems to blind them to that question.

If I have to choose, I will continue to choose to be on the side of people who think it's troubling when utilities and quasi-utilities strike agreements involving "new services [that are] too soon to predict", with nothing but unspecified "safeguards" to stop that definition coming to colonize more and more online services, and seek to exert public pressure to force their adoption at a governmental level, rather than the people who loudly declare that it can't be anything to worry about. We'll see who turns out to be right.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 4:07 PM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


Please pardon me for butting in on something that seems to be a domestic matter, but more than anything else this sounds like a failure of government. The FCC, Google and the major providers holding private discussions behind closed doors, Google and Verizon attempting to frame the debate in the apparent absence of anyone else taking a stand, all of it smacks of monopolism. Where is the public debate on this issue, and why have your legislators apparently left it to the interested parties to come up with policy? There certainly seems to be public interest here, as more and of modern life takes place on the internet.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:09 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is the proverbial toll road on the information superhighway, a fast lane reserved for the select few, while the rest of us are stuck on the cyber-equivalent of a winding dirt road.

Nice metaphor, but what does it actually mean? Will the ability to offer current services such as Skype and other VoIP services decline?

Or is the real issue here that, because of this Google/Verizon framework, most people will not have access to actually meaningful services, such as high-speed delivery of medical information, etc.?
posted by KokuRyu at 4:17 PM on August 9, 2010


When you write the rules that will govern you...

That is not what is happening here. These two companies are floating an idea to the public which states how they would like to see things progress in the future. There's nothing legally binding in that document. Nor has the FCC announced they're adopting it.

...and utterly defang the government regulator in the process...

How does a policy statement prevent the FCC from taking action against either company? More importantly, how does it define legal terms?

...there's no practical difference between calling it FCC regulation and calling it the Internet Big Boy Regulation Body.

Neither of the criteria you list seem to be happening right now, so for the moment this seems like a moot point.

I don't trust either company to have my best interests at heart. Never have. But if I'm going to rage against injustice, I'd rather it be real and not imagined.
posted by zarq at 4:22 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


if I'm going to rage against injustice, I'd rather it be real and not imagined.

Unfortunately, it's no longer fashionable for the bad guys to dress in black and the good guys to dress in white.
posted by tybeet at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the telcos need to be able to tier data if they're going to move to providing video on demand and proper phone services. I'm also reasonably satisfied that Google are focused on keeping the currently open internet open. I don't envisage a situation where you cant go to facebook because you're not on Verizon. I see more a situation where the Verizon Video and phone package is only offered to Verizon users.

That said - I'm not particularly happy with the phrase "which ensure that consumers have access to all legal content on the Internet, and can use what applications, services, and devices they choose." (emphasis mine).

I can see this meaning the end to bittorrent, and I see ramifications with regard to this and government censorship. As one of the comments in the Google Blog post asks, would this mean the blocking of sites like wikileaks?
posted by seanyboy at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the telcos need to be able to tier data if they're going to move to providing video on demand and proper phone services.

Haven't the telcos been providing proper phone services for, well, a century now?
posted by hippybear at 4:29 PM on August 9, 2010


Unfortunately, it's no longer fashionable for the bad guys to dress in black and the good guys to dress in white.

True. Well said.
posted by zarq at 4:32 PM on August 9, 2010


KokuRyu: So internet providers reserve the right to charge more for television or similar "premium" content delivered over a separate internet network,
Yep, but not "premium" content, rather "additional, differentiated" services.

while (current) conventional broadband will remain basically the way it is.
Depends on exactly what those additional services are. The physical broadband may stay the way it is, but perhaps services you're used to getting over it will move onto what you call the "separate" network.

Wireless is not being addressed, because future bandwidth consumption will continue to increase, and no one knows how to address this issue yet.
Wireless is being addressed, specifically to say that it will be the total fiefdom of carriers, potentially the nightmare-scenario of net-non-neutrality -- eg pay more to get fast access to Facebook or Youtube -- that people have been fighting against for wired broadband.

Zarq: These two companies are floating an idea to the public which states how they would like to see things progress in the future. There's nothing legally binding in that document. Nor has the FCC announced they're adopting it.
Yes, and the idea they are floating is terrible, so terrible that it requires the sort of outcry that is required to ensure lawmakers don't trip on a lobbyist and enshrine it in law. What does it matter that there's nothing legally binding in this particular document? It clearly sets out what the companies would like to become law, and the reaction is against the proposal's consequences.

How does a policy statement prevent the FCC from taking action against either company? More importantly, how does it define legal terms?
By spelling out what the FCC can and should do, and lobbying to make that position law, it potentially does both of those things.

But if I'm going to rage against injustice, I'd rather it be real and not imagined.
This is a really fucking weird position you have, based on nothing more than your repeated clinging to this being just a "policy proposal". It's not unlike you saying "hey, this is just a bill! How does that affect anything? I'd rather rage against actual laws".

We've seen in the past what happens when policy proposals are turned into laws that benefit their corporate sponsors. You act as though regulatory capture was a fiction and there was some robust, citizen-focused democracy standing between Google/Verizon and the statue books. Now who is imagining things?
posted by bonaldi at 4:32 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Haven't the telcos been providing proper phone services for, well, a century now?

Echoing modern-day problems with accessibility of broadband networking, the Rural Electrification Administration was charged with bringing electricity and (somewhat later) telephone service to rural areas of the United States in the mid-30s and afterwards. In familiar-sounding language, co-ops emerged due to "unwillingness of power companies to serve farmsteads". It was as far along as 1949 when the REA began giving loans to telephone service co-ops.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:45 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Haven't the telcos been providing proper phone services for, well, a century now?

Why use an analog line for phone calls when you can use the same copper that's carrying one call now to carry 100 calls with voip. Analog phones will be gone entirely within 5 years, probably, except for rural areas that can't get broadband internet for whatever reason.
posted by empath at 4:50 PM on August 9, 2010


Analog phones will be gone entirely within 5 years, probably
Emergency calling is a problem here. You can't provide emergency calls over voip as it requires external power, but in a lot of areas, it's mandated that carriers provide emergency calling. The issue is holding up fibre rollout in the UK.
posted by bonaldi at 4:55 PM on August 9, 2010


I don't know what to make of it, but I'm also guessing that this announcement back in May for the Google Tablet, courtesy of Verizon, has a lot to do with the current situation. Not to mention Google's recent row with Apple (who is more or less in a similar partnership with AT&T). If application marketplaces are the future of computing, as some would have us believe, then perhaps the next step is to integrate these applications into their own services running on independent pipes.
posted by tybeet at 5:10 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Analog phones will be gone entirely within 5 years, probably

And fusion power will be here in 10.
posted by bonehead at 5:20 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Analog phones will be gone entirely within 5 years, probably

You don't live in the sticks, do you?
posted by maxwelton at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Analog phones will be gone entirely within 5 years, probably, except for rural areas that can't get broadband internet for whatever reason.
posted by empath at 5:37 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm just gonna go ahead and say I called this one.
posted by ardgedee at 5:46 PM on August 9, 2010


Why you should worry: Ominous references to the "public Internet" inescapably suggest something else entirely
posted by homunculus at 5:48 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Analog phones will be gone entirely within 5 years, probably

They will if Verizon has their way.

I maintain my phone on copper lines, mainly for the the reason that it's reliable and useable when the power goes out. Copper is plenty wide for conversation, too. Long story short, Verizon fucked up the copper lines in my neighborhood when they laid FIOS cables. They cut the copper in several places, and patched them badly - so when the ground gets saturated with water, the line goes all scratchy.We've gone back and forth with Verizon about this for almost two years. They always hem and haw, but send a technician out and get it fixed ( it's always something different - I swear they just make shit up).

The last time I called, the Verizon rep said if I was willing to switch to fiber for the phone, they would send someone out in an hour to hook up the fiber and install the battery backup in my house. Of course, since I already explained above why I've stayed with copper, I asked the rep what was the advantage to me for switching. He said (with a straight face), it would be better for me because they could troubleshoot problems from their office instead of sending out a rep. I explained my reasons and that they had sold me copper, and I wanted to stay with copper. I also pointed out that being able to troubleshoot long-distance was an advantage for them, not me.

His response? Fine, we'll send a technician out in THREE WEEKS. And it did take three weeks. The technician was a very nice guy who had been with Verizon for twenty+ years. He explained that Verizon is quietly abandoning their copper lines, and the primary way right now is making repair work for customers as big a hassle as they can.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:48 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


tybeet wrote: "What I see happening in the long term is the development of parallel Internets, ones that vastly exceed the current one with capacities and speeds. These new Internets will be locked into proprietary services by corporate vendors (entertainment services that even Google predicts), while the current Internet is left to stagnate, or rot, if you will. While it won't degrade, it sure as shit will seem like it's degrading relative to these newer services. That is exactly the kind of thing Net Neutrality advocates have been trying to prevent, is it not?"

You're predicting today. U-Verse, to use one example, is all IP. You can only get their TV on their wire. You can only get their phone on their wire. Oh noez, it's a private internetz!

The only problem here is what I stated earlier. A lack of competition in the provision of last mile services. We need line sharing or complete separation of the wire from the data. Whether the physical network be maintained by a company, a coop, or a governmental entity, I don't much care. Anyone who likes should be free to offer any IP service on that wire they like. If some ISPs decide they need crappy policies, oh well, there are others. If that fails, start your own. If that fails, get together with like minded people around the nation and start your own internet.
posted by wierdo at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2010


His response? Fine, we'll send a technician out in THREE WEEKS. And it did take three weeks. The technician was a very nice guy who had been with Verizon for twenty+ years. He explained that Verizon is quietly abandoning their copper lines, and the primary way right now is making repair work for customers as big a hassle as they can.

I don't work for Verizon, but I work with Verizon and I'm pretty sure this is true. Part of the reason is that Verizon is forced to lease copper lines to competing clecs, but not fiber. A switch to fiber means that Verizon will have a monopoly again.
posted by empath at 5:57 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


. A lack of competition in the provision of last mile services. We need line sharing or complete separation of the wire from the data.

Personally I think the solution is to get the wire companies out of the data business and have a company whose job it is to build out fiber to the home and manage connections to data providers. Running fiber isn't a sexy business to be in, but it would be easy to structure it in such a way that it guarantees profits in perpetuity, much like power utilities.
posted by empath at 5:59 PM on August 9, 2010


Yes, and the idea they are floating is terrible, so terrible that it requires the sort of outcry that is required to ensure lawmakers don't trip on a lobbyist and enshrine it in law. What does it matter that there's nothing legally binding in this particular document? It clearly sets out what the companies would like to become law, and the reaction is against the proposal's consequences.

It matters a great deal, because Potential ≠ Actuality. If you're going to talk about potential consequences, then please and frame them as such. Otherwise, you're weaving an imaginary story in which potential threats that haven't actually happened are somehow being characterized as actual ones that have.

By spelling out what the FCC can and should do, and lobbying to make that position law, it potentially does both of those things.

Exactly. "Potentially."

This is a really fucking weird position you have, based on nothing more than your repeated clinging to this being just a "policy proposal". It's not unlike you saying "hey, this is just a bill! How does that affect anything? I'd rather rage against actual laws".

No, it's more like me saying, "This is just a proposal. What's going to happen next, and how will the FCC respond? Who would be excluded by this proposal? Does it establish any sort of monopoly for participating companies? What does the framework actually say, and what is so vague that it is open to interpretation? What does that mean, and how might it realistically affect the public if put into effect?"

I don't act as if it's already been enacted, because it hasn't.

We've seen in the past what happens when policy proposals are turned into laws that benefit their corporate sponsors. You act as though regulatory capture was a fiction and there was some robust, citizen-focused democracy standing between Google/Verizon and the statue books. Now who is imagining things?

I'm being realistic, which entails a recognition of the fact that while special interests do have a great deal of lobbying power within our government, they are not omnipotent. Many special interest groups conflict with one another and there are groups like the Sunshine Foundation who are devoted to gov't transparency.

We have an active democracy. The way to get the public motivated for their own self interests is to be realistic about potential threats, not by fearmongering.
posted by zarq at 6:01 PM on August 9, 2010


NYTimes discussion.

Contributors:
Tim Wu
Lawrence Lessig
Ed Felten (freedom to tinker)
Jim Harper
Jonathon Zittrain

I don't know Harper or Zittrain, but the other 3 are worth reading. Wu is generally considered the person who brought Network Neutrality to the public consciousness, Lessig is of course one of the Creative Commons founders, and Ed Felten was one of the people who did the Diebold hacking a few years ago.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


empath wrote: "Personally I think the solution is to get the wire companies out of the data business and have a company whose job it is to build out fiber to the home and manage connections to data providers. Running fiber isn't a sexy business to be in, but it would be easy to structure it in such a way that it guarantees profits in perpetuity, much like power utilities."

My thoughts exactly. Line sharing is a lesser alternative, but which is far superior to our present situation. When it was still enforced, I had a large number of ISP options. All the same at&t wire, but a multitude of different price points and features.
posted by wierdo at 6:09 PM on August 9, 2010


His response? Fine, we'll send a technician out in THREE WEEKS.

That happened to us three years ago. I responded by telling Verizon to cancel my service immediately. I figured that if they were incapable of supporting their long-term customers then I would switch to someone who appreciated my business.

I then switched to digital service through our local cable company, which turned out to be quite a lot cheaper in the long run. We now have cable tv, high speed internet and digital phone service for what I used to pay for the 'net and phone alone.

I still have Verizon wireless for my phone. The coverage is consistent and amazing. But to hell with their landline service.
posted by zarq at 6:10 PM on August 9, 2010


Exactly. "Potentially."
You're like the bizarro antithesis of chicken little. "This oncoming freight train could potentially run me over, yes potentially. What is going to happen next, and how will the engineer respond? I had better measure the distance and the gauge of the track. Is there a possibility that the points will change? What speed is it actually going, and what will realistically happen to a human body if it is transgressed upon by that much metal? My conclusion is that the train's gambit is merely a proposal, and further study is required."

"All of you yelling at me that the train is rushing towards me should acknowledge that it has not yet hit me and frame your comments as such."
posted by bonaldi at 6:11 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Bonaldi, just out of curiousity, what's your experience with managing networks?
posted by empath at 6:15 PM on August 9, 2010


You're like the bizarro antithesis of chicken little.

Perhaps. I'm rather tall in real life. :)

If I'm the antithesis of Chicken Little and we disagree, then what does that make you?
posted by zarq at 6:19 PM on August 9, 2010


I do have to laugh at the predictions of all fiber telephone service within 5 years. In the town in which I live, we have exactly ONE choice of telephone service (CenturyLink -- a mating of two of the worst telcoms to exist -- CenturyTel and GTE), and they've been saying since we moved here 7 years ago that there would 1) be competition for phone service to improve service and drive down the price, and 2) that there would be fiber installed city-wide for better internet access.

7 years and counting. I don't see anything changing anytime soon.
posted by hippybear at 6:19 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't say anything about fiber. You can run voip over copper DSL.
posted by empath at 6:26 PM on August 9, 2010


Empath, It's non-zero and mid-level, though I fail to see the relevance.

What I would like to see and what would be relevant is you substantiating your "it'll make the internet better" claim above. So far, nobody has articulated a really good argument *for* this. They've raced to say it's all fine, nothing-to-see-here, but that's not the same thing at all.

Zarq: Probably cocky locky, who saves chicken little from herself whichever way around you run the story.
posted by bonaldi at 6:30 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are 18 ASes (a fancy-pants term that is more general than ISP) worldwide that control more than 45% of Internet traffic. (more here)

Is that enough that the market can work things out via efficient consumer choice (the Internet perceiving censorship and routing around it), or do we need regulation? That seems to me to be the operative question here. Lots of network management techniques can be used for both good and evil. In this regard, it seemed to me that Prof. Ed Felten's comment was the most insightful.

Also, thanks to Lemurrhea for linking to that discussion.
posted by pmb at 6:41 PM on August 9, 2010


We absolutely have made the argument.

Some information on the internet is time sensitive. Some is not. The information that is time sensitive needs to be given priority over non-time sensitive information. The kind of information that needs priority are things like video, voip and games. The kinds of things that don't need priority are things like web traffic, and especially peer-to-peer stuff like bittorrent.

The reason why some traffic needs priority is because if, for example, streaming video packets are delayed, or arrive out of order you can't use them later. That information is just gone. But http traffic can be retransmitted and used in any order. So it makes sense, when you have a choice, to delay http traffic in favor of streaming media traffic.

ISP's have a limited amount of bandwidth, not just in the last mile to the home, but all throughout the network. Every network is going to have many links maxing out throughout the day (this is less of a problem over night).

If you establish regulations that state that ISP's can't privilege any traffic over any other traffic, then things like real time video, voice and so on are just not going to be scalable or dependable. Sure, things like Skype might work 90% of the time, but you can't depend on it and you can't run a business on it.

If, however, ISP's can create dedicated channels for voice, video, games, medical information, whatever, then suddenly those applications become viable replacements for analog systems.

What this agreement is essentially stating, and what the goal of Google is, from what I understand, is that it's important that all traffic of a particular type is treated equally, but the ISP should have the ability to prioritize some types of traffic over others.

This isn't pay to play, and this is not a tiered internet. This is just leaving open the ability for ISPs to guarantee that real-time traffic arrives in real time.

All of the capability to do this is built into the backbone right now, and most ISP's are doing some form of this right now, particularly for business (see MPLS and DSCP). Companies pay big big money for it in fact, because it's a valuable service.

For a home user, what this is going to go is give you the ability to say "I'm serious about XBOX, I want to make sure that I have a sub 20ms ping time at all times to the Xbox Live servers, and I'm willing to pay more for that." And it gives your ISP the ability to create a channel in their backbone just for video game traffic and to prioritize your video game traffic from end to end.

By necessity, this is going to be given preferential treatment over other traffic where these channels are created, but that doesn't mean the end of the internet. It's just one thing you could do on the internet that you wouldn't be able to do if net neutrality were strictly enforced.

What the ISP's have distinctly NOT been building into their network, and what I think is extremely unlikely that they're going to do is somehow create whitelists and blacklists to slow down traffic to individual sites or companies. Pay-to-play would be a PR and administration nightmare. It just doesn't make sense financially to blackmail your customers when you can offer value added services instead that people will happily be willing to pay more for. And since most people primarily use the web, I highly doubt they'd choke down web traffic significantly with QOS, because their customers would complain.
posted by empath at 6:48 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know Harper or Zittrain, but the other 3 are worth reading.

Jonathan Zittrain is a pretty big name in internet law, and the co-founder of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. He is worth listening to.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:57 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you establish regulations that state that ISP's can't privilege any traffic over any other traffic then things like real time video, voice and so on are just not going to be scalable or dependable.
This is exactly what Google's proposal says should be done, for wired networks. Well, it says "Internet" traffic, which allows the hinky little "services" hole, but on one reading still seems to preclude a lot of what you're saying apparently in favour of it. Still:

This isn't pay to play, and this is not a tiered internet. This is just leaving open the ability for ISPs to guarantee that real-time traffic arrives in real time.
It's not pay-to-play, but if you don't pay when you play your xbox you'll be at a significant disadvantage. It's not tiered, but if you don't pay your streaming video won't nearly work as well as that of those who do pay.

Even if this were the untrammelled good you depict, it's only *one* part of google's seven points. Where's your justification for why it'll be better letting carriers shape, tier and generally do what they like on wireless? Or for restricting the power of the FCC in numerous ways, forcing them to defer to vaguely defined Internet regulatory bodies?

This proposal isn't just shaping, or qos, or regulation. It's a tightly packed bundle. Look at this thread to see the wide range of things people are saying "well, it's fine apart from X, which really worries me" about.

The argument that isn't being made is why the whole bundle is a win.
posted by bonaldi at 7:37 PM on August 9, 2010


ack. i almost wish i hadn't stuck up for google now, though i still think the original NY reporting skewed the facts quite a bit. still, inadvertently or not, it does seem everyone may be playing right along with verizon's plans to reestablish itself as some kind of monopoly in certain markets. that sucks. and honestly, i'm a little less than enthused about land-line phone service vanishing. i just don't have much confidence that american industry can bring systems with the reach and reliability of the old telephone networks online anymore. more likely, we'll end up with the telecommunications equivalent of iraq's new power grid.
posted by saulgoodman at 8:05 PM on August 9, 2010


It's not pay-to-play, but if you don't pay when you play your xbox you'll be at a significant disadvantage. It's not tiered, but if you don't pay your streaming video won't nearly work as well as that of those who do pay.

And your streaming video won't work as well if you have dial-up either. Sometimes people who have more money get better stuff, and that's just the way the world works.

Where I agree with net neutrality is that I don't think that ISP's should act as gatekeepers who determine which companies and providers get priority. I don't think that Verizon should have any say in whether Hulu or Youtube gets premium treatment. I don't think they should be able to say that Yahoo is more important than CNN or daily kos. Video should be treated like video, voice as voice and html as html, no matter where it came from. That's not just important in terms of consumer rights, but important to preserve for the sake of democracy. From what I understand, this agreement codifies that principle.

The reason wireless is different is that wireless networks have even less bandwidth than wired networks, but I'm personally against treating wireless any differently.
posted by empath at 8:10 PM on August 9, 2010


Look, I think the agreement is worth debating about and I'm sure as details come forward there will be lots of things I disagree with, but the 'sky is falling' hysteria is just uncalled for, and Google is not being evil here. And I'm no fan of Verizon, but I think they're being pretty reasonable, and I don't think they're trying to 'control the internet'. They're trying to skimp on infrastructure costs, if you want to take a cynical view of it. They want to better prioritize traffic rather than install a whole bunch of extra capacity that they wouldn't really need if QOS was better implemented.
posted by empath at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2010


For a home user, what this is going to go is give you the ability to say "I'm serious about XBOX, I want to make sure that I have a sub 20ms ping time at all times to the Xbox Live servers, and I'm willing to pay more for that." And it gives your ISP the ability to create a channel in their backbone just for video game traffic and to prioritize your video game traffic from end to end.

And what happens when the lines are choked with people using the fast lane that there's no room for anyone else?

This is what the "oh no it's fine stop worrying" crowd seems to elide: this system will not create additional bandwidth. It will simply allow people to pay for the right to take part of the bandwidth. This is only sustainable as long as a limited number of people are using it. If enough people spring for the premium service, there simply won't be room for those who can't afford it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:18 PM on August 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


People seem to be giving Verizon way too much credit here. You know they are going to do some evil ass fuck the customer shit.
posted by chunking express at 8:27 PM on August 9, 2010


As someone involved in implementing QOS at an ISP, I can assure you, we can figure out how much bandwidth we need to assign for various channels and build out accordingly. Generally real-time traffic is easy to predict because it's not as bursty the way web traffic and file downloads are. A phone call is 80kbps. 10 phone calls are 800kbps.

If you don't do QOS, however, there is almost no amount of bandwidth you can install that will guarantee real time performance for every connection. When links get congested, all connections will be degraded equally.

As I said before, an ISP would be suicidal to dedicate all it's bandwidth to real time traffic and leave none left over for http, and as long as all http traffic is treated equally (which is the kind of net neutrality I support), then I don't expect QOS to significantly impact it.
posted by empath at 8:29 PM on August 9, 2010


So what, do you only accept the first so many subscriptions to the real-time services, then?
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:42 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is what the "oh no it's fine stop worrying" crowd seems to elide: this system will not create additional bandwidth. It will simply allow people to pay for the right to take part of the bandwidth. This is only sustainable as long as a limited number of people are using it. If enough people spring for the premium service, there simply won't be room for those who can't afford it.

This is where I disagree.

All you can eat internet access as a low price commodity ends up with sub-par broadband speeds in the US.

Something needs to pay for the increased backbone fiber, routers, data centers, wireless access points, etc. necessary for a better quality (speed & lower latency) internet access that will allow a full transition to digital media and ubiquitous connectivity. It's not the government's job to do this, it's up to private enterprise and that means a profitable business plan. If you want to download your HD quality movie in 5 minutes, it going to COST MORE than if you are willing to wait 5 hours.

Paying $20-30 /months for internet access is not going to enable the kind of improvements to get to the next level of network speed/accessibility that people desire. I pay $30/month for Time Warner cable modem at ~ 10Mb/s speeds. Why shouldn't I be able to pay more to get faster internet and real time video delivery if I want it?

If the ISPs have customers that want to pay more for faster internet access, it funds the further development of the networks. Without increased spending on the networks, nothing will improve. That may be OK with some hipster minimalists, but I want some 100Mb/s access.

I'm all for the net neutrality in terms of allowing the unrestricted flow of data, meaning no filtering or other anti-competitive measures, but that is very different than allowing people to pay for the level of service they want or for special services that they want.

I wonder how the Google/Verizon haters think that the networks will improve if alternative funding models aren't developed. Anyone got a suggestion?
posted by Argyle at 8:42 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's say for example (these numbers aren't remotely realistic) that you have a 100 mbs connection between CO (where all the end user modems terminate at) and the backbone, and you've got 150 customers with 1 meg DSL connections.

Now, if every single one of your customers was downloading at their full download speed, you're going to overload your link. This rarely happens. But let's say it does, and 25 people are using voip phones when this happens.

Now, without QOS, what ends up happening is that all 150 customers who are downloading websites, etc have maybe 2-3% packet loss or maybe some latency spikes up to 150ms. This is annoying, but it would only be noticeable as a slight drop in browsing speed, due to TCP error correction, etc.

But 2-3% packet loss and 100 ms of jitter is ruinous to a VOIP call. Every one of those 25 people with voip phones are going to have unusable service for the duration of the capacity problem.

Now, those 25 people using phones? They're only using 2 megs of that congested 100MB link. If QOS is implemented, then that 2 megs will be reserved for the phones and the remaining 98 megs will be distributed equally to the remaining connections. This would barely have any impact on the web traffic at all, but would actually make the VOIP service usable. You've gone from 0% to 100% usability for 25 people, while barely impacting anyone else.

Now keep in mind, when phones aren't being used, there's no bandwidth being reserved, and if the line isn't congested, then QOS doesn't matter at all.

Now, is this 'fair' to the people who didn't pay the extra cost to have QOS for VOIP service? I dunno-- is it fair that Joe Sixpack downloading porn torrents can wreck my VOIP call, when I only need such a tiny amount of bandwidth, relatively, for it to work?

Net Neutrality is not as cut and dried issue as a lot of you guys seem to think it is.
posted by empath at 8:43 PM on August 9, 2010


And your streaming video won't work as well if you have dial-up either. Sometimes people who have more money get better stuff, and that's just the way the world works.

I'm not okay with that. What you're describing is called the digital divide, and it sucks. I want to see universal broadband access, because the Internet is important, fundamental infrastructure (at least in the global North) and it's wrong that some people get second-class access to that infrastructure for bullshit political and economic reasons.

One of the things the Google/Verizon proposal does is set up the conditions for a digital divide to persist for all services that the ISPs define as "distinguishable in scope and purpose" from basic Internet service. Under a sufficiently broad interpretation of that clause, Skype and YouTube were distinguishable in scope and purpose from basic Internet service 10 or 15 years ago. The equivalent new services like Skype and YouTube that will exist 10 or 15 years from now will be part of the more expensive, "additional services" tier rather than the basic Internet tier, and people on the wrong side of the digital divide will not have access to those services. It doesn't have to be that way.

You seem to think that competition will force the ISPs to define the additional-services tier as narrowly as possible. But competition doesn't work very well in oligarchies, and that's what we've got in the telco industry. It's much more likely that the additional-services tier will be defined very broadly; consumers who can afford it will simply get used to paying through the nose for that stuff due to weak competition, and those who can't afford it won't have access in the first place. That's how mobile data service has played out here in Canada, and it's obviously the telcos' preferred model.
posted by twirlip at 9:51 PM on August 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


empath wrote: "If you establish regulations that state that ISP's can't privilege any traffic over any other traffic, then things like real time video, voice and so on are just not going to be scalable or dependable. Sure, things like Skype might work 90% of the time, but you can't depend on it and you can't run a business on it. "

I agree with your general argument, but the statement I quoted isn't really true. Most networks have very little backbone congestion because they overbuild significantly. Ever since they threw out the DS3 backbone connections, backbone connections have been upgraded very aggressively because it keeps getting cheaper, what with single lambda transmission capacity growing so much and DWDM gear coming down in price.

The congestion has generally been on private peering links between networks, where one or both of them are being slow about spending the money to upgrade.

At least in the US, congestion in an ISP's backbone is pretty rare, barring failures. At the edge of the network whether customer or peering, yeah, congestion is an issue for a lot of ISPs. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see that changing in the near future. It's simply too expensive to build twice the necessary capacity with the increasing amount of traffic.

And personally, I think that basic prioritization of real time traffic over bulk traffic is something that ISPs should just do for no extra charge. It does them as much good as it does me.
posted by wierdo at 9:52 PM on August 9, 2010


I wonder how the Google/Verizon haters think that the networks will improve if alternative funding models aren't developed. Anyone got a suggestion?

Welllllll, the government could give the telcos hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the building of a first-rate national data infrastructure, but they'd probably leave the fiber dark and/or steal the money, just like they did in the 90's.

Frankly, I think we're at a point where the infrastructure simply will not improve unless something akin to a plane containing the entire management divisions of Comcast, Verizon, et al crashes into the ocean. The dominant ethos in telecommunications right now is to squeeze out as much profit as possible and never lay an inch of avoidable cable, and it's long past time we stopped pretending that internet is private good.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:21 PM on August 9, 2010 [5 favorites]


is it fair that Joe Sixpack downloading porn torrents can wreck my VOIP call, when I only need such a tiny amount of bandwidth, relatively, for it to work

Leave me out of this. And they're called Porrents, tyvm.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:28 PM on August 9, 2010


Having been an ISP, I have no trouble advocating for control of my network resources to provide maximally optimized service to my(now former) customers.

As a cable TV subscriber, I record my TV to a computer running DVR software via the firewire port on my set top box. Some channels are not available via firewire, due to a setting in the Copy Control Information byte associated with those channels. I am subscribed to these channels, pay for the cable box, output through a port on the set top box, but am restricted on some channels.

If I had a Comcast DVR, I would not be restricted in which channels I could record.

Netflix is available on consoles, bluray players, or other IP-enabled TV connected devices. It's convenient, works well, and users pay a monthly fee to access it. But they don't pay Comcast additional fees for bandwidth consumption, or prioritization.

Comcast could argue that QOS applied to the network to ensure efficient use of network resources means that demand video just can't be supported at the rates required for higher quality video without consuming disproportionate amounts of available bandwidth. Comcast may suggest a contract with Netflix ensure support for the availability of capacity. Or maybe users will pay omcast a fee to have Netflix traffic ensured a higher rate?

I've dealt with a lot of network providers, and their concerns are not mine. If I only have one choice of low latency high speed provider, their policies are of great concern to me. As it is, I am 2 miles from where the modern internet was first popularized, and I only have access to high speed internet access through one provider. And that provider is the same one restricting my use of another service I purchase from them.

My 20 years of direct experience with carriers and providers, as a buyer and a seller, wholesale and retail, leads me to believe that they will be motivated to optimize return on investment, that service for customers is not a primary concern, and they have historically only been restrained by one force, the FCC.
posted by dglynn at 11:19 PM on August 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


dglynn wrote: "I've dealt with a lot of network providers, and their concerns are not mine. If I only have one choice of low latency high speed provider, their policies are of great concern to me. As it is, I am 2 miles from where the modern internet was first popularized, and I only have access to high speed internet access through one provider. And that provider is the same one restricting my use of another service I purchase from them.

My 20 years of direct experience with carriers and providers, as a buyer and a seller, wholesale and retail, leads me to believe that they will be motivated to optimize return on investment, that service for customers is not a primary concern, and they have historically only been restrained by one force, the FCC.
"

You've explained the exact reason I think the wires (or fibers) need to be divested from the bits. Making real competition feasible would go a long way to preventing abuse. A duopoly (perhaps with lesser alternative options) is not conducive to that end.

Short of that, I'd like to see the FCC mandate that the ISP's bits be treated the same as other people's bits. IOW, the provider's VoIP should be treated identically to some third party's VoIP. The provider's "cable TV" (when delivered over IP) should be treated the same as a third party's video service. Beyond that, they should be able to prioritize however they like.

I don't doubt it would cause much gnashing of teeth and even brokenness. Maybe it would teach the providers to stop using stupid CPE that makes IP work worse than it has to.
posted by wierdo at 12:16 AM on August 10, 2010


Yes, that sounds contradictory to my earlier statement. It's not. I don't think all bits should be treated identically, but I do think that the owner of the pipe ought not have an advantage when they're working tirelessly to make sure they are one of two or three (at best) pipes available. It's sort of a market concentration vs. ideology thing.

In a rosy future where the last mile is shared between a multitude of possible IP providers, I think that net neutrality rules would probably be unnecessary. In that case, forced interconnection might be needed, though. It doesn't do you much good to build a network if you can't connect to whatever network the users want.

Excepting the last mile, the ISP biz has a low enough barrier to entry that strict regulation wouldn't be needed in a truly competitive market.
posted by wierdo at 12:23 AM on August 10, 2010


Can you imagine what would happen if they decided certain sites weren't worth supporting and you'd have a bottleneck trying to visit them?
posted by infini at 2:09 AM on August 10, 2010


This issue -- in fact, the whole issue of "how bits get to people" -- is far too important to be left to corporate "governance." Imagine if the streets outside your house were all owned by little geographic monopolies. In a large part the prosperity of the first world is predicated on a network of roads and highways owned and administrated by the government in trust for the population.

The correct answer is for the FCC to draft a set of standards of data carriage for various endpoints (e.g. household), and for all of the wired and wireless infrastructure that delivers it from concentrator to demarc be owned by municipalities and/or regionalities in trust for the population. Business interests would be free to compete for the right to deploy and/or administer these, but they would never bill the populace directly, and they would be forced by contract to uphold the federally mandated standards -- just the way our road system is developed now.

The internet's importance in facilitating the transfer of data is secondary in only to the importance of our roads in facilitating the transfer of goods*. It must be managed the same way, or corporate Balkanization will cripple everything we've worked so hard to create over the past 40 years.

* And it will not be too many years, I give it about 10, before the means of data transfer eclipses the means of physical transportation as the most essential infrastructure on the planet. Especially since non-trivial physical transportation is going to get really fucking expensive.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:52 AM on August 10, 2010


The correct answer is for the FCC to draft a set of standards of data carriage for various endpoints (e.g. household), and for all of the wired and wireless infrastructure that delivers it from concentrator to demarc be owned by municipalities and/or regionalities in trust for the population.

This is quite frankly insane. I'm okay with handing over last mile to municipalites (whether that is wireless or wired,) because basically a cable is a cable. But you would freeze the internet in place if we did as you propose.
posted by empath at 5:42 AM on August 10, 2010


Please don't take the 'information superhighway' talk too literally. The internet is not a road.
posted by empath at 5:43 AM on August 10, 2010


> I'm okay with handing over last mile to municipalites (whether that is wireless or wired,) because basically a cable is a cable.

This is what I had in mind, but I guess I wasn't clear in my intent. I want federal regulations put in place to guarantee a minimum consistent level of data transport service to everyone, free from Adam Smith's invisible rubber glove.

> The internet is not a road.

I solely to my point care about how an infrastructure facilitates the intellectual, social and economic development of the parties it connects, and in that realm the internet is absolutely comparable to our roads system.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:01 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Someone please tell me if I'm mistaken here:

All this bandwidth is owned by us, the public. The private companies have purchased rights to use the spectrum, but don't own it. Is it not the responsibility of the government to ensure that any rules governing that use benefit us? This whole area should be run as a public trust, not a business. If private companies can carve out a profit in that atmosphere, fine. If they can't, fuck 'em.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:41 AM on August 10, 2010


Actually, no, the public owns the airwaves. The pipes were mostly paid for by the public but are the property of the companies whose pet congresscritters handed them over.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:19 AM on August 10, 2010


Were the pipes mostly paid for by the public? I'm genuinely curious about that. I know that the internet originally was all built out by the government, but I was under the impression that most of the growth now is privately funded.
posted by empath at 7:24 AM on August 10, 2010


All this bandwidth is owned by us, the public. The private companies have purchased rights to use the spectrum, but don't own it. Is it not the responsibility of the government to ensure that any rules governing that use benefit us? This whole area should be run as a public trust, not a business. If private companies can carve out a profit in that atmosphere, fine. If they can't, fuck 'em.

You are correct when it comes to wireless RF spectrum which is owned by the People and licensed to private enterprise.

You are incorrect about and wired bandwidth, what makes up the majority of the Internet, which is almost wholly privately owned.

The government, in the form of the FCC, has made many guidelines governing the use of the spectrum given to television, radio, HAM, wireless data, etc. all in the name of benefiting both the general public and private enterprise. Their success (or failure) in this is up to your perspective. So what you are asking for is already in place.

As far as fucking, it will be the general public who is fucked if the ability to build improved networks is stopped by government intervention. The ISPs will sit on their thumbs and enjoy the status quo, politicians will divert money to 'rural broadband' earmarks and the general internet experience will slowly get worse and worse (meaning your bittorrent d/l speeds will get slow).

But of course, this might conflict the "businesses are all evil and government is all good" paradigm many want to wrap themselves in.
posted by Argyle at 7:29 AM on August 10, 2010


As far as fucking, it will be the general public who is fucked if the ability to build improved networks is stopped by government intervention. The ISPs will sit on their thumbs and enjoy the status quo, politicians will divert money to 'rural broadband' earmarks and the general internet experience will slowly get worse and worse (meaning your bittorrent d/l speeds will get slow).

But of course, this might conflict the "businesses are all evil and government is all good" paradigm many want to wrap themselves in.



That's not exactly what I was getting at, although it's pretty dumb to not believe that business looks after business.

Allowing private enterprise to run everything is not always the sensible approach. Is the internet important enough to justify tilting the board in favor of the public? I believe that most advanced countries have decided that it is. I am, generally, OK with giving private enterprise control over products; I'm just not sure they should have a say in controlling information.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:43 AM on August 10, 2010


You are incorrect about and wired bandwidth, what makes up the majority of the Internet, which is almost wholly privately owned.

It's privately owned, but not because it was privately funded. A lot of it is either Bell legacy cable or was paid for in the 1990's during the Clinton Administration's push for universal broadband, in which we gave a shit-ton of money to the telcos with the understanding that it would be used to establish a first-class data infrastructure which would bring broadband to everyone, or nearly everyone. The telcos pocketed a lot of that money and used the rest to lay cable which, it eventually came out, was owned by the telcos and did not, in any way, constitute a first-class data infrastructure. It's 20 fucking 10 and there's still people less than a mile out of town who can't get broadband without the godawfulness of satellite.

The really annoying thing about this is that I've been googling for links about it- I know the info's out there, I found a bunch of stuff about it five or six years ago- but all my efforts to find those links again are buried under link farms and irrelevancies due to the keywords involved.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:02 AM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


[few comments removed - if you can't keep your rivalries in check you will be shown the door, do not do this here. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:23 AM on August 10, 2010


empath: Sometimes people who have more money get better stuff, and that's just the way the world works.

Bingo. You are of course entirely entitled to this political position, even though I happen to disagree strongly with it where the accessibility of certain fundamental utilities, including most online access, is concerned.

Where this thread has gone wrong is in people imagining that their experience of managing networks, or other technical expertise, makes this political position more right than those of us who are arguing the opposite. It doesn't, of course; moral positions don't work like that.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:32 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Leaving aside network neutrality for a second -- FIOS costs more than DSL, do you think this is a problem that needs to be addressed politically? People who can afford FIOS have internet that is about 10 times faster than DSL. Is this fair?
posted by empath at 9:01 AM on August 10, 2010


I think there's a difference between FIOS costing more than cable/DSL costing more than dial-up. These are different technologies with different capacities. It makes sense that different technologies would have different costs. This "pay us money and we'll set up QoS to give you priority" scheme isn't about charging more for better tech, it's about charging more for preferential treatment.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:05 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Empath, just out of curiosity, what political or moral philosophy experience do you have?
posted by bonaldi at 9:24 AM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


PC World ponders the 5 red flags they see in the Google-Verizon pact.

(many of which have already been raised in this thread)
posted by hippybear at 10:23 AM on August 10, 2010


Empath, just out of curiosity, what political or moral philosophy experience do you have?

It really doesn't matter what your moral philosophy is if you don't understand the technical issues involved.
posted by empath at 10:26 AM on August 10, 2010


It does if you do.
posted by bonaldi at 10:35 AM on August 10, 2010


Leaving aside network neutrality for a second -- FIOS costs more than DSL, do you think this is a problem that needs to be addressed politically? People who can afford FIOS have internet that is about 10 times faster than DSL. Is this fair?

Sure it's fair. Verizon brought a product to the marketplace, and the market will vote with their wallets. And they should be able to offer whatever bells and whistles they want as long as the basic on-ramp services to the web are not gamed or dictated by Verizon.

It really doesn't matter what your moral philosophy is if you don't understand the technical issues involved.

I think I have a pretty decent grasp of the technical issues. I also don't believe that it's the public's duty to make sure that the environment is easy and profitable for business. It's their job to figure out a profitable business model.

That doesn't mean that the relationship has to be antagonistic; both good and bad come from a competitive marketplace. If there are solutions that help industry without screwing consumers, then they need to be considered. But unfettered access to the internet should not be compromised.

Proposing a second "pay-to-play" internet will make the existing environment the red-headed stepchild when it comes to new investment or innovation. If the concept of the internet as an information and educational tool is important, regulation of some sort is absolutely necessary.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:46 AM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


Has anyone been tracking Google's activities in Africa?
posted by infini at 11:28 AM on August 10, 2010


empath wrote: "Were the pipes mostly paid for by the public? I'm genuinely curious about that. I know that the internet originally was all built out by the government, but I was under the impression that most of the growth now is privately funded."

It is privately funded. Excluding internet2/NLR, which is more like the old NSFnet. Ever since the rise and fall of the MAE structure, it's been pretty much all commercial. Which is fine for backbones, where there's lots of fibers available to build one's own network from. Not so great for the last mile, where there are at best two wires, and sometimes one.

Seriously, most of the long distance fiber isn't even owned by traditional telcos, or in some cases was built by companies traditional telcos later purchased (or purchased a traditional telco, in the case of Qwest)

The backbone is fine (generally), it's the last mile that's fucked and will continue to be until there is real competition again.
posted by wierdo at 1:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by FormlessOne at 4:55 PM on August 10, 2010


Some good further analysis. EFF's description of the agreement, a useful explanation without too much editorializing. And Ars Technica's retrospective, contrasting Google's previous positions with this Verizon proposal.

I've asked everyone I know and no one understands what Google gets out of agreeing to give up wireless network neutrality. Even if you believe they're Evil, how do they benefit? They're just handing power to Verizon, AT&T, etc.
posted by Nelson at 9:54 AM on August 11, 2010


Even if you believe they're Evil, how do they benefit? They're just handing power to Verizon, AT&T, etc.
Depends on the quid pro quo, and we don't necessarily see that here. Google's pushing Android like all hell, what announcements could be coming about that? They also have won a concession about neutrality for existing services, so YouTube over wires is safe.
posted by bonaldi at 9:58 AM on August 11, 2010


I've asked everyone I know and no one understands what Google gets out of agreeing to give up wireless network neutrality. Even if you believe they're Evil, how do they benefit?

I'm not going to cite and link because it'd become a full blown white paper but here's my 2 kwacha worth in a nutshell.

The mobile web is the present and the future - not the web as it is seen through your iPhone screen but a whole new web - one that's primarily emerging from East Africa, particularly Nairobi, Kenya. There's the whole transaction layer going plus new services around money transfer, remittences, savings and loans, all primarily conducted by sms and often, human agents in the last mile (that reminds me there's GCash in the Philippines as well etc)

Next we have a whole bunch of mashups and solutions, mostly open source and/or affordable basic services, emerging around healthcare, education, language lessons, craigslist equivalent "listings" (latest is Nokia Listings) and even full on banking (FrontlineSMS Credit for eg)

Given all of this and the speed at which this is spreading across the other 3.5 billion mobile phone users outside the OECD/creamy layer of BRIC etc we've got the foundation plus the inklings of a transaction layer happening that can be accessed mostly be even ten year old GSM phones.

Now these markets, who were heavy sms users even before the iPhone was a gleam in Steve's eye, have always been accustomed to paying for services - a great discussion on this with reference to Google Trader's launch in Uganda earlier this year is here for your perusal.

Therefore, unlike the freemium habits we oldsters on our webz have ingrained in ourselves much to the sorrow of the pipes and content builders, we have here an opportunity to charge for any and all services over the mobile/wireless platform.

The only market which hasn't exploded yet is the United States, its also a walled garden state and phones are not open (that is, in most of the rest of teh world, which is GSM for the most part, you can use any old phone and slip a SIM card in - people even carry two or three sims for the best network rates)

Therefore, given all of the above and the inexorable future (whenever it arrives in the US) Google's covering their bets in an attempt to own this future market. Verizon is their ops buddy.

/11th August 2010 2333 hrs
posted by infini at 1:35 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've asked everyone I know and no one understands what Google gets out of agreeing to give up wireless network neutrality. Even if you believe they're Evil, how do they benefit? They're just handing power to Verizon, AT&T, etc.

Part of that is because they didn't agree to give up wireless network neutrality. They agreed that this is a proposal specifically for wired networks, and that it's not supposed to also cover wireless ones, due to differences in the ownership, the regulatory agencies, and the physics.

Think of this as the FDA issuing regulations on beef farms, which mention "These are regulations for beef farms, and are not to be construed as regulations on pork farms." Does it seem reasonable to interpret that to mean the FDA is saying pork farms will go unregulated?
posted by kafziel at 2:43 PM on August 11, 2010


Think of this as the FDA issuing regulations on beef farms, which mention "These are regulations for beef farms, and are not to be construed as regulations on pork farms." Does it seem reasonable to interpret that to mean the FDA is saying pork farms will go unregulated?

It feels like you're expecting the opposite answer, but well yeah it does. Or at least that the regulations won't change.
At least if you take a proper contextual analogy.

Suppose the FDA met with farmers. Beef farmers, pork farmers, other farmers. Then they issued "Regulations on animal farming", or "Regulations on farming", with your exemption for pork farms. Then certainly the FDA is saying 'yeah, we're comfortable with the current regulations on pork farms'
posted by Lemurrhea at 3:16 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


A paper trail of betrayal: Google's net neutrality collapse (the Ars Technica article linked above by Nelson)

3. Wireless exemption

Finally, there can be no question as to what Google Then would have thought of Google/Verizon's proposal to exempt wireless broadband providers from any non-discrimination principles. Indeed, BusinessWeek even ran a Google-focused piece in September 2009 called "Will Net Neutrality Go Wireless?"

But according to this week's proposal:

Because of the unique technical and operational characteristics of wireless networks, and the competitive and still-developing nature of wireless broadband services, only the transparency principle would apply to wireless broadband at this time.

What's all this about the "unique" character of wireless networks? Rob Frieden, a respected Penn State telecoms scholar, noted this week that "the rationale for exempting wireless does not pass the smell test... The technical and operational aspects of wireless strongly necessitate the non-discrimination requirement."

Back in April, Google agreed. It strongly lobbied against this idea and the logic behind it. Wireless companies (like Verizon) that seek a nondiscrimination exemption based on the allegedly "competitive nature" of the wireless sector, "fail to acknowledge some relevant facts," the company wrote.

The number of mobile wireless subscribers may be increasing, but "the number of service providers actually is contracting," with AT&T and Verizon controlling over 60 percent of the national wireless market. "Further, these two providers' wireless, video, voice, and data offerings are substantially vertically integrated with—and their motivations to discriminate are tied to—their affiliates' wireline networks," Google added.

It went on:

More importantly, wireless broadband access providers do not acknowledge the wireless industry's record of dubious practices—a list that continues to grow. For example, the cable industry notes that "providers of wireless Internet access unabashedly engage in outright blocking." Deep packet inspection "has been deployed far and wide" by various wireless last mile network operators. Further, the contractual terms imposed by major wireless carriers purport to prohibit the use of peer-to-peer applications, Web broadcasts, server or host applications, tethering, and the use of wireless as a substitute for wired broadband. Nonetheless, wireless network operators' practices are not transparent, the government to date has declined to exercise its rightful oversight authority, and effective enforcement mechanisms to address abuses do not exist.

Wireless Internet companies "in particular fail" to honor the philosophy inherent in the FCC's proposed nondiscrimination rule, the firm charged.

"Notwithstanding any technical differences between wireline and wireless networks that may justify different application of the reasonable network management exception on a case-by-case basis," Google Then insisted, "the record is clear that all last-mile broadband network providers have common incentives to discriminate in the absence of an effective and enforceable rule protecting consumers and competitors."

But between April and August, the wireless market apparently became "competitive." As for the wireless industry's bad acts, so long as those are disclosed, Google has made its peace with them.

posted by infini at 4:14 AM on August 12, 2010


Google speaks: Facts about our network neutrality policy proposal
by Richard Whitt, Washington Telecom and Media Counsel. Explains some of their thinking and motivation.
posted by Nelson at 11:02 AM on August 12, 2010


It's a genius bit of work, that.
MYTH: Google has “sold out” on network neutrality.

FACT: Google once had a great reputation on this. But then we sold out.

MYTH: This proposal would eliminate network neutrality over wireless.

FACT: This proposal would eliminate network neutrality over wireless ... but the government could later perhaps change the law again

MYTH: This proposal will allow broadband providers to “cannibalize” the public Internet.

FACT: This proposal will allow broadband providers to “cannibalize” the public Internet ... but the FCC will be allowed to watch as they do.

MYTH: Google is working with Verizon on this because of Android.

FACT: We are very close to Verizon, we started work on this after Android, but if we say it's not a business deal will that do?

MYTH: Two corporations are legislating the future of the Internet.

FACT: It's not law yet, but we'd like it to be. Totally different. Look, a bird!
posted by bonaldi at 2:43 PM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


ftfy comments are pretty annoying even when you do it to corporations. Why don't you actually argue with what they said, not your slanted opinion of it.
posted by empath at 2:55 PM on August 12, 2010


What do you mean 'eliminate net neutrality' by the way? There is no such law or regulations on the books right now. They can do whatever the fuck they want.
posted by empath at 2:56 PM on August 12, 2010


Respected privacy advocate Lauren Weinstein: Civility, Neutrality, and Google.
But if the reward for publicly putting forth such concepts in good faith is mostly characterized by malevolent histrionic reactions -- rather than logical consideration of actual technical and policy effects -- we risk relegating broadband, Internet policies to the same virulent cesspool of political gamesmanship that has paralyzed the U.S. on other important issues ranging from immigration to civil liberties.
posted by Nelson at 3:40 PM on August 12, 2010


empath, it's not a ftfy nearly so much as it is a translation. Arguing with what they said is fruitless, because it's nearly all sophistry and spin. The usual point of the myth/fact format is to rebut or correct the myths. That's not the case here, it's more "yes, ok, but ...".

The "myths" are, it turns out, essentially facts.

As for 'eliminate net neutrality': we're in the land of possibility, here. For a long time Google has championed strongly the cause of net neutrality, wired or wireless. Now, in their projected world, there is no net neutrality on wireless. It's like your boss says he'll fight to get everybody a pay rise. Then months later, he says, OK, he can get everybody a pay rise except you. Have you lost anything?

we risk relegating broadband, Internet policies to the same virulent cesspool of political gamesmanship that has paralyzed the U.S. on other important issues ranging from immigration to civil liberties.

Actually, it's behaviour like Google's that leads directly to the virulent cesspool. People feel strongly about net neutrality, and Google elected itself their champion with very clear-cut and unambiguous proposals. Now, without any effort at explanation or justification beyond a very ambiguous nod to "pragmatism", it considerably reduces the scope of its demands; with such a massive concession -- giving away the future, essentially -- that thoughts immediately turn to the quid pro quo.

The net result is that, as has happened, proponents of net neutrality will become considerably more polarised, not less, and the debate will descend into ever-more entrenched positions. The way to ameliorate that would have been to sell the supporters of net neutrality on the ideas in this proposal, not to present them with a fait accompli U-turn and then get all hurt when people turn on them in kind.

As the most visible champion for net neutrality and the open internet, Google was in a perfect position to say "there is no-one more committed to this than us, and we think this is the best, most workable deal there is; here's why". They didn't do that. They just said "we cooked this up with Verizon; it's done."
posted by bonaldi at 4:37 PM on August 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


Tea Party groups out against net neutrality
posted by homunculus at 2:05 PM on August 13, 2010


The free speech argument against net neutrality is fucking absurd. It's not the telco's speech, it's yours.
posted by empath at 3:00 PM on August 13, 2010


New York Times: Google Plan With Verizon Disillusions Some Allies.
posted by Nelson at 11:55 AM on August 16, 2010


AT&T likes Google & Verizon's wired-only net neutrality stance, Time Warner Cable doesn't
posted by homunculus at 12:35 PM on August 17, 2010


« Older They said he could have been the next Sly Stone or...  |  The term Brutalist Architectur... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments