net neutrality
May 30, 2006 10:24 AM   Subscribe

No one's talking about "government lawyers and regulators engineer[ing] the future of the Internet," except, well, you, Mike. Craig Newmark debates with Mike McCurry over "net neutrality". Meanwhile, Hands Off the Internet seems to be a deceptively clever name for an organization sponsored by big telecoms.
posted by thisisdrew (19 comments total)
The Communications Workers of America represents 700,000+ union men and women at the nation’s cable, phone and wireless companies. These include engineers, field technicians, and others who know a heck of a lot about our telecom systems.

I suppose there is no irony in an telecom astroturf site lauding union labor when they do as much as possible to dismantle it.
posted by Mr. Six at 10:30 AM on May 30, 2006 [1 favorite]

I saw a tv ad for some astroturfing group called TV4US, that gave viewers an 800 number where they could leave a message for their representative, and they'll forward it to him. Of course I left a pro net neutrality message.
posted by nomisxid at 10:55 AM on May 30, 2006

Well, it makes sense for the CWA the oppose Net Neutrality anyway. People at google and YouTube arn't CWA workers, but people at ATT and Cingular are.

Pure self-interest would put the CWA against Net Neutrality, just as pure self-interest would put telecom stockholders against net neutrality.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 AM on May 30, 2006

Pure self-interest would put the CWA against Net Neutrality

I'm not sure I understand. Prioritizing one form of traffic over another doesn't change the amount of labor being done, it just charges different rates for the same bandwidth. I don't see why the CWA would be against net neutrality on labor issues alone.
posted by Mr. Six at 11:10 AM on May 30, 2006

I realize this is painfully self-interested but I would much rather the Telcos work on building out the last mile before they turn their attention to tiered service. IPv6 would also be nice. Not to mention Newmark is dead on when talking about excess capacity in the existing backbone. It's not the pipes but the junctions and access points that are constrained.

I think Craig puts it best when he states it is a question of trust and, frankly, there is very little I trust about the current communications environment (hello, National Infrastructure Initiative). McCurry's ultimate solution for those who find themselves behind the 8-ball when tiered service impinges on their access is "to walk." However, thanks to unrestrained mergers there are no second options for any other than a few major markets.

Rounding back to the topic though, unless we want a collection of fractured networks with tolled gateways, we need to put the power to regulate the Internet into someone other than the telecos' collective hands. Crap like this is only going to become more frequent if we don't.
posted by Fezboy! at 12:10 PM on May 30, 2006

Instead of consumers prioritizing the information they want, the telecommunications companies are allowing (or coercing) content providers to prioritize media based on a fee. It's patently ridiculous that I could be downloading very slowly off my own website while a connection to something like ABC's streaming television would go much faster because they bribed the telco. This is an outright ploy for large companies to get preferred service.
posted by mikeh at 12:51 PM on May 30, 2006

Fezboy! has it absolutely right. Even here in NYC where there are enough telecom companies per square foot to choke a yak, Verizon owns all the lines. You want Covad or Speakeasy DSL? Wait for a Verizon truck. There is a grand total of one, count 'em one local dialtone (non-VoIP) provider that serves my apartment. Now how did you know it was Verizon? Luckily in the cable realm there is (some) competition. There are actually two companies I can buy cablemodem service from! With their own lines no less! My sister's house on Long Island? One.

My point is that this 'competition' business is bollocks. Running cables is too expensive for new entries to do effectively and this whole 'share the lines' idea is silly. Guess which job Verizon would rather show up to, a Verizon DSL customer or a Speakeasy customer? Me, bitter? Hah.

Infrastructure by its very nature lends itself to monopolies because the barriers to entry are too huge. What we really need is to lower those barriers. WiMAX, if it ever happens, should help that. A big tower is a lot cheaper than buying rights-of-way so we might see actual competition.

IPv6 would be awesome. Fiber would be awesome. Proper, end-to-end unfiltered routing would be awesome. This 'next-generation' network the telecoms talk about would be great but trying to QoS the internet to pay for it is a red herring. More bandwidth means more bandwidth sales, period. If the huge amount of bandwidth that VoIP and IPTV will take up isn't making the telecoms salivate at the prospect of charging for it all, then what exactly is wrong with their business plans? Why exactly won't that huge influx of traffic more than pay for the phantasmagorical next-generation network?

What the telecom industry is saying is essentially that they are worried about there being too much demand for their product. How many industries do you know of that complain that demand is too high? Startlingly, I don't see ExxonMobil complaining that people are going to buy too much gas.

Dear telecoms: you say you want competition. When you remember what competition even looks like, get back to me. Until then, how about you focus on keeping my DSL up and maybe learning to spell IPv6.

posted by Skorgu at 12:52 PM on May 30, 2006

As soon as one type of traffic gets metered differently than another type, there will arise software that tunnels or packages traffic by the cheapest/fastest route.

Not necessarily something you want to incentivize, but... if they start charging me per type of traffic, I'll do what's cheapest.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:54 PM on May 30, 2006

Nice to see Mike McCurry has been able to build on his career as a professional liar.

The line "If the little guys and the innovators are getting a raw deal from an ISP, the answer is to pick up and walk" is pure bullshit, and even a non-techie like McCurry should be able to see that. Craigslist, say, gets its connection to the Net from Company X. After we get rid of this pesky net-neutrality, in order to guarantee decent throughput (or any connection at all, maybe) to whoever wants to use craigslist, Craig conceivably might need to bribe every ISP in the world through which would-be craigslist visitors might connect. Not just Company X, of which Craig is already a customer.

What's next? "We've learned that many users are overwhelmed by the staggering number of websites out there, so we're just redirecting all URLs to"
posted by adamrice at 2:21 PM on May 30, 2006

The whole "charging content providers for the bandwidth they use" argument is a red herring. You are paying for the bandwidth already. Virtually everything that comes in over your network is stuff you requested: YouTube isn't trying to force its way down their pipes to your computer -- you, the the customer, have requested that content be sent to you out of the bandwidth allocation that you have paid for.

What they want to do is charge twice for the same packet of data: once for you to receive it and once for the content provider to send it. It's as if, when you call your mother on mothers day, the price of the call ended up on her bill as well as yours.

As for them needing the money to support innovation and buildout. we have paid and paid and paid already, and they've pocketed the money, done nothing they promised for it, and here they are continuing to whimper.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:02 PM on May 30, 2006

A little more on the daylight robbery that the telcos have already perpetrated. You tell me why they need more money.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:06 PM on May 30, 2006

To me this is about control and profit.
(In the future?) the internet will lay waste to many corporations who profited by controlling technology in the "elite" (owned by the few) stage, like in the case of burning cd's or broadcasting (radio, TV, Film, etc...). It's just so profitable.
Now that the internet is in the "popular" stage and anyone can copy or create their own media. We share the wealth.
Legislation can give control of this technology to a very few once more.
How can we (so many) lose control to the few?
If everyone who wanted to keep the internet "open" we could have a fund raiser ($1 each for example) and do some lobbying of our own. Obviously this is about control.
The 1st thing any "evil" state would do would limit the internet. Limit the debate, narrow the view.
How is it possible that legislation is passed and we just let it happen? Do we have any say?
It's still "We the PEOPLE," right?
I wish I could, but I'm just not savvy enough. But I would give the dollar.
If the people lose control of this magnificent communication tool (we call the internet) that has made us more informed as a society then at any other period in our history. It will be in my opinion the worst mistake we (as a global society) will ever make.
posted by indifferent at 5:12 PM on May 30, 2006

They already charge twice for each packet of data. Google's ISP bills must be enormous...
posted by hattifattener at 5:14 PM on May 30, 2006

I love how McCurry's solution for telecom companys acting badly is to hire his friend as a lawyer.
posted by delmoi at 5:26 PM on May 30, 2006

I live in rural Ohio. The only reason I have anything even approaching broadband is that a guy in the small town two miles away runs a wireless ISP off the top of the water tower. It's better than dialup, but very wonky. I have called Roadrunner every six months for seven years and they refuse to extend their lines, even though people 1/2 mile away have cable, and even though at least five families on my road have requested RR.

There are millions of households in rural America that still have no access except dialup. But we all pay fees on our phone bills to build broadband, and have for years.
posted by words1 at 5:32 PM on May 30, 2006

Real wireless networking, and a serious mesh protocol, and I know i'm going to tear the lid off of my local wired internet provider (Wait, make that world wide web downloading only provider) personally.

I can't wait for Wimax. "3 to 5 miles (5 to 8 kilometers)" of over 2mbps, that and an old desktop pc and I'm the neighborhood ISP.
posted by Freen at 5:47 PM on May 30, 2006

They want to see what happens when neutrality is lost? No problem. Just route directly to goatse.
posted by bhance at 9:10 PM on May 30, 2006

Craig gives a great interview. He even shines through this hostile New York Magazine profile.
posted by bukharin at 10:28 PM on May 30, 2006

Until, of course, the ISP you're buying your net connection from cancels your account for violations of their Terms of Service, Freen.

That's what the issue is - not what you do with your equipment, but what you do with "their" connection.
posted by odinsdream at 8:45 AM on May 31, 2006

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