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The Internet The Almighty Buck

BellSouth Will Charge Providers For Performance 594

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the so-much-for-a-fair-internet dept.
smooth wombat writes "In a follow-up to this Slashdot story from last month, BellSouth has confirmed that it is in discussions with content providers to levy charges to reliably and speedily deliver content and services of the providers. Bill Smith, chief technology officer at BellSouth justified content charging companies by saying they are using the telco's network without paying for it. "
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BellSouth Will Charge Providers For Performance

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  • There goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:34AM (#14490522) Homepage
    Common carrier status.
  • by mikelieman (35628) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#14490528) Homepage
    Oh, I guess you want to have your cake, AND eat it too?

  • by XMilkProject (935232) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#14490530) Homepage
    The companies aren't pushing any data across your networks, they aren't the ones using it. Quite on the contrary, your subscribers are the ones pulling data across your network from the various sources, and I'd wager a bet that you are already charging them a fat monthly fee.
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:38AM (#14490556) Homepage Journal
    I wonder who they'll charge for the spam and worm traffic... MS? Spammers? Consumers with zombie machines? Will porn be super slow in the future or will they pay up?

    Seriously though, these "charges" will of course be passed along to us end users somehow, much like the telcos do now with the fees they are charged (look at your phone bill). More plentiful/intrusive ads, registrations a la NYT (note from mom and teste req'd) or just a flat out service fee. The folks playing MMORPGs will probably see the spike most directly in their monthly fees. Of course this leaves us schleps with personal servers and such with yet one more bill to pay if they get aggressive enough about deciding who a content provider is. The bandwidth wars are begining, methinks.

  • Greed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mnemia (218659) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:40AM (#14490567)
    This is nothing but greed at its worst, and it will ultimately ruin the Internet if it succeeds. I'm guessing they are aiming this primarily at VoIP companies since they are worried about losing their local phone monopoly, but it could affect a lot of other things in a negative way too (by undermining the whole economics of the Internet, and vastly increasing expenses for running a website). I think the best move would be for all the bigger companies (like Google, etc) to just refuse to pay their money. Then it's the ISP that looks like the bad guy if they intentionally downgrade the service for refusal to pay "protection money".
  • by richdun (672214) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:41AM (#14490588)
    ...this will definitely get the FCC involved more heavily in regulating Internet providers. The "information service" loophole they've been using to get away with less regulation won't hold up much longer if things like this kick up. The Internet is quickly becoming one of those pieces of infrastructure vital to the public good, just like electricity , phone service, etc, especially when cable, phone and Internet access are now (or soon will be) virtually one service. States may have been deregulating the traditional utilities recently, but I could see something like this swinging the pendulum to the other side.
  • by Kamel Jockey (409856) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:42AM (#14490597) Homepage

    Their ISP, or a particular content provider, say Google. I see 2 potential outcomes here:

    1. BS users will not notice any significant degradation in connections to websites like Google, Yahoo, or in using VoIP services or the like. In which case, these content providers will not pay extortion fees to BS. BS retaliates by blocking access to these sites and users leave BS as a result.
    2. Content providers actively solicit BS customers away from BS. For example, a BS customer loads up Google and sees a message on the page like "Don't like the way this page loads? It's because your ISP, BS, stinks! Switch to ISP XYZ today!" Google is seen by many people as an entity which can "do no evil" and as a result it might be able to get away with such a move. A VoIP provider might put a pre-recorded message prior to each call which could say "Your ISP, BS is purposefully degrading the quality of this call. If you don't like this, switch to ISP XYZ today!"

    What needs to happen here is that word needs to get out that BS is not offering better service to those who pay, but is rather offering crippled service to those who don't pay. Both statements are true because granting one group of traffic priority over the other reduces the quality of the connection available to the other groups of traffic.

  • Slow (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:43AM (#14490602) Homepage
    Who does BellSouth think their customers will blame when "the Internet is slow"? Especially when they ask their tech friends who point out that switching to a different ISP will make it faster?
  • by Spamalope (91802) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:43AM (#14490606)
    I want my cake. BellSouth is benefiting from the services it's subscribers are accessing over the network. BellSouth uses this access to sell monthly network access subscriptions to my (and everyone else's) content. BellSouth is selling my content. Pay up bitch.
  • by scoove (71173) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:44AM (#14490614)
    The companies aren't pushing any data across your networks, they aren't the ones using it.

    Exactly. It's amazing this "eyeballs vs. content" battle still hasn't gone away, especially after several notable disasters where the eyeball owners (service providers to consumers) tried to exact a toll for the content their subscribers were consuming.

    I was at the Commercial Internet Exchange annual meeting in 1996 when this issue popped up there. Many theorized then that the Bells, who had lost out on their NSFNET NAP scheme (which Al Gore was a strong proponent of), would find another way to get a measured use model into the net. It's apparent they still dream of ratcheting measured use costs, since they happen to be rather good at billing complicated use schemes. Still, it's amazing to wonder how they think they can carry this out. What would they do - require a fee per domain name to be consumed by a household (and enforce it how? That's one heck of an ACL - as if RBOC DSL service isn't sluggish enough already - Qwest can't get you down the street from home to serving wire center under 40-45 ms typically).

    Or would you block it on an AS basis and pick up the whole bilaterial battle that saw Exodus and BBN (if my history is correct) fight? Unfortunately for the RBOCs, there are alternatives to their mediocre DSL. If you think a consumer will pay $55 for partial Internet when they can get complete service from the cable or wireless provider for the same fee, they're gone.

  • by cmoney (216557) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:46AM (#14490633)
    So does this mean if a content provider doesn't pay up, BellSouth will throttle down data coming from that provider? Will they arbitrarily lose packets to slow down transmission? Or do they block all access altogether?

    Also as to what Mark Cuban said: Don't we already have different levels of service quality? If I pay for dialup access at say $9/month I get a certain amount of bandwidth. If I pony up $25/month for DSL I get even more. If I decide cable is the way to go and pay $50/month, even more than DSL (in my case at least). And finally, if I really want guaranteed access, I pay for business-level service. So what the hell are these poeple talking about? If I'm already paying for my bandwidth, why am I being asked to pay again. Because we all know that it's the consumers who will end up paying these extra fees.

    All these old-school legacy companies need to get a swift ass kicking.
  • by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:46AM (#14490634) Homepage
    FTA: "It's the shipping business of the digital age," Smith said, arguing that consumers should welcome the pay-for-delivery concept.
    I am not sure that this is an apt analogy. I am not sure what a good analogy would be. To use the shipping analogy from the article however, wouldn't it be like a shippee paying UPS or FEDEx a monthly fee for unlimited deliveries, and then having UPS or FEDEx ask the shipper to pay part of the cost?
    In the artcile they say that they may ask apple for a nicklle or dime per song downloaded. I pay my cable internet provider $60 a month for access- now they want content providers to pay too? This is ridiculous. What do they think they are, the government? (the gov't charges you tax on gas for roads, and other road taxes, yet you still must pay tolls at times...)
  • by feorlen (214880) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:47AM (#14490643)
    ... your data were routed through West Elbonia, now wouldn't it?"

    How is this different from paying off the guys with the baseball bats? Or having to hire a "fixer" to get your building permit?

    And just how would they be able to "enforce" anything? I see a RICO lawsuit headed their way...
  • by amigabill (146897) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:50AM (#14490671)
    >Bill Smith, chief technology officer at BellSouth justified
    >content charging companies by saying they are using the telco's
    >network without paying for it.

    I thought the internet service customer was the one paying for use of the vendor's network?? As in, I as a Comcast cablemodem customer am paying for use of Comcast's network. Comcast's product that I am buying from them is the ability to access Google, hotmail, webmd, or whoever's web sites I care to look at.

    It sounds like they're wanting to double-charge for a single service. Kindof like if Walmart decided to charge me for the DVD, and also charge the movie producers for the right to have their DVD sold in Walmart's store.

    I've heard rumors that Verizon may be considering this policy as well while I've been asking around about DSL and FIOS. If they pull a prank like this, I may stick with Comcast, even though I'm relatively unhappy with their service's reliability in my case.
  • Re:Greed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Moby Cock (771358) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:53AM (#14490697) Homepage
    This signals the death knell for 'old style' communications companies. BellSouth (and many others) simply refuse to accept that the economics of communication are changing They feel entitled to their monopolies and plan to fight any threats to them. This ploy may work for a little while but I am confident that the market will allign itself. In the meantime, anyone on BellSouth should switch (if possible). I abandoned Bell about two years ago and life is great! Come and join me!
  • by Noryungi (70322) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:53AM (#14490703) Homepage Journal
    Find an ISP -- preferably a small, mom-and-pop operation, or at least a customer friendly, yes-we-do-have-a-clue company -- and switch.

    I mean it, vote with your dollars and with your feet, so to speak, and leave Bell $outh behind for good. Send a clear message to the extortionists that they are: we won't tolerate this, we won't accept this and you will pay the price for your stupidity.

    I just hope Bell South will understand the message when they see their customers desert in droves.
  • by Vapon (740778) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#14490736)
    I am sure that most of these companies have already paid for quality of service and are not paying $40/month for their internet, they would have very high speed fibre connections coming in to give them the high speed connection to the internet allowing them to upload media to clients.
  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by revery (456516) <charles@nOsPAM.cac2.net> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:59AM (#14490756) Homepage
    Starting next Monday the Yellow Cab Company of Chicago will begin charging all business to which a fare is delivered. "It is unreasonable," said Abraham Stoley, President of Yellow Cab, "for businesses to receive the benefit of customers and employees arriving at their sites in a safe and timely manner and for them to pay nothing. We spend time, we spend gas, and quite frankly, we expect them to pay their fair share of the fare." Although they are not implementing it at this time, Mr. Stoley went on to say that they may also begin billing all businesses passed on the way to a destination, as these business receive "free marketing". Businesses everywhere were unavailable for comment.
  • by wren337 (182018) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:00PM (#14490767) Homepage
    Your comment got rated funny, but this is no joke. Do you think bell south is going to offer service FASTER THEN THEY ALREADY OFFER if you pay up? Of course not - the shipping metaphor he keeps using breaks down. They aren't offering ground VS air service here. What he is doing is threatening to degrade service if you don't pay.

    That's not pay for performance, it's blackmail.

  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arivanov (12034) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:04PM (#14490811) Homepage
    It will be very difficult for the FCC to do anything here because as a result of the death of public peering points around 2000 all usual content suspects are directly connected to the BellSouth (and other tier 1 providers) networks and are in direct commercial agreement with them. As a result these are just normal customer/provider relations. It is not transit or anything originated by another carrier carried across BellSouth and dumped onto another carrier. So common carrier ideas will be very difficult to apply.
    If the FCC did not close their eyes when the Tier1 effectively formed a cartel and killed all peering points around 2000 and if it did not allow babybells to grow back to mabell size it would not have happened. Now there is little that can be done besides restarting the MaBell breakup process
  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IAmTheDave (746256) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ds-evademanesab}> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:06PM (#14490824) Homepage Journal
    So does this mean a small website could sue for extortion or sabotage if the network performance is poor?

    I have to hope so. Also, those users who see poor performance on a website should sue as well, because users DO pay for the use of the lines. This is without a question extortion. Bell South says "they don't pay for the lines" as if no one at all pays for them. But you and I pay for the lines - so Bell South wants to be paid twice for the same slice of cake.

    I hope this gets challenged in court and Bell South gets the spanking it deserves. This makes me so sick.

  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GoodNicsTken (688415) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:11PM (#14490871)
    I don't think they are thinking this through. Right now they only see Access charges (what LD companies pay them) in decline, and VoIP is eating their lunch. With the FCC taking years to fix the problem they are trying to find an alternative.

    I find it odd that the main arguement DSL used in early 2000 was the connection is not shared as it is with cable. Now as a subscriber, I can apparently pay for 1M service, but only get 500K unless the service provider is paying Bellsouth (and if this flys, every other telco) for the extra bandwidth?

    When customers realize Bellsouth is not providing the service they are paying for, there's going to be some backlash. This is what happens when the stock market is running a company. Executives do stupid things to try and make their bouns.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:16PM (#14490925)
    Oh, I guess you want to have your cake, AND eat it too?

    Of course they want that! They'll take whatever they can get, and they'll naturally target things like VoIP and media (IPTV, music, etc.) services first.

    But to play devil's advocate for a moment: they're threatened by people who want to provide, for example, broadband VoIP services, partly because VoIP providers haven't been saddled with the same baggage as traditional telephone operators (though that's changing bit by bit as well), just as IPTV-over-broadband providers are/will be a threat to traditional cable operations that also provide broadband services.

    Both the cable operators and the telephone operators have built massive physical infrastructure, part of which is subsidized by the broadband customers, but a very large part of which is still subsidized by their traditional, non-broadband customer base. Now, if Bellsouth loses of customers to VoIP, then, in theory, that's going to shift costs of operating their network to broadband customers. I mean, if you lose hundreds of thousands - or millions - of customers, all of whom were paying you before (arguments about what should be reasonable profits aside), what now replaces that revenue, some of which goes to support, expand, operate, and maintain your massive physical plant and network? Clearly, if the money doesn't come from elsewhere, it's going to come from your broadband customers. So if you're ok with broadband monthly rates increasing by two- or three-fold, then it's fine to make this "but your ISP customers already paid you" argument.

    Rather than go down that road, Bellsouth is trying to leverage its customer base to get high-profile media providers to "pay" for the delivery of their content, to ensure a continuing revenue stream. Greedy and opportunistic? Sure. But it's also not just imaginary that their traditional customer base is threatened by some of these new technologies. I'm not saying I like what Bellsouth is doing, but see if you can imagine what would happen if Bellsouth lost a third of their telephone customers over the next ten years, and didn't gain anywhere near that in broadband customers. What replaces that revenue?
  • by aetherspoon (72997) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#14490951) Homepage
    And that's the whole problem with the deal.

    Take my example, back when I lived in South Florida. Bellsouth is the local bell, Adelphia the local cable provider.

    Adelphia refused to offer two way cable service in my area - meaning that I'd have a cable modem for downstream and DIALUP for upstream. Not acceptable.
    Bellsouth offered very high priced DSL - at the time, 40 USD/month got you 256kbits down, 128kbits up (or 10 more got you 1500/256 - I know it is less now, but I know more about the situation then).
    You could also get DSL service from any number of companies.... that all charged more than Bellsouth. Why? Because Bellsouth would lease their lines for.... you guessed it, 40 USD/month. Meaning no matter what, EVERY ISP you'd choose would have a higher price than BS, pay BS, and get even worse support. For an anecdotal piece of evidence, a friend of mine didn't have his DSL hooked up for 4 months - all because BS decided to not hook it up in a timely manner since a compeditor was using their lines.

    Unless you live in one of the areas that has WiFi service, or in an area with a competant Cable company (from what I hear, they are finally thinking about offering two-way in my area - at like 60 USD/month), you CAN'T switch. Bellsouth is a local monopoly, plain and simple. You have bellsouth or dialup. A lovely choice if I do say so myself.
  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:22PM (#14490992) Homepage
    Don't we already have different levels of service quality? If I pay for dialup access at say $9/month I get a certain amount of bandwidth. If I pony up $25/month for DSL I get even more. If I decide cable is the way to go and pay $50/month, even more than DSL (in my case at least). And finally, if I really want guaranteed access, I pay for business-level service. So what the hell are these poeple talking about?

    It gets better - not only are you only paying for the bandwidth on the client side, the businesses are also already paying for the bandwidth on the server side. Apple has to pay more per month for their connectivity than I do, because they have a lot more bandwidth. Apple's upstream has peering agreements that are supposed to guarantee transport.

    So why will Apple wind up going along with this? Why is Mark Cuban in support? Because it allows the big boys to play and kills the little guys. Competition, while a cornerstone of capitalism, is anathema to corporatism. And don't expect our corporatist government to lift a damned finger - they know that your parents and grandparents don't even know this issue exists (assuming the politicians do), let alone understand it. Noone is going to vote them out if they don't take action. They may threaten to take action, but only so they can get a pile of cash from whoever took Abrahamoff's job. It will almost certainly never be an issue, and even if it does become an issue, they will happily muddle it with vague preaching about fair markets and gloss over the monopoly issue.
  • by CharonX (522492) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:23PM (#14490995) Journal
    So Ma Bell wants to charge companies and people that deliver content to Bell's very own customers.
    So let them. But don't pay. And inform the customers WHY they recieve such bad troughput when using their websites.
    Imagine e.g. Google, doing a simple revers IP lookup to determine the provider and if it's Ma Bell, adding the following message to their search sites.

    Dear Visitor,
    We apologize for the possible slowness of our service.
    However your provider BellSouth, has decided to demand "bandwith charges" from all major website transmitting data over their network (in addition to any subscription charges from you).
    Google has declined to pay those additional charges, as this traffic - like searching via Google - should be (and with all other ISP is) covered with your subscription charge.
    If you have any questions, please contact your local BellSouth service center.
    Happy Googling!


    Tens of thousands of unhappy customers calling BellSouth should make them do another reality check and stop demanding those ridiculous charges.
  • by dlc3007 (570880) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:23PM (#14491003)

    Nice thought. Unfortunately, BellSucks -- er, BellSouth is the only telecarrier available here. Sure, I could switch to the cable company (and I'm considering it after this crap), but that would mean leaving my local ISP [iglou.com] like.

    That leaves me with the following options:
    1) Really good ISP that goes through really bad BellSouth
    2) Bad cable company.

    Of course, if I hadn't just signed a 2 year sat TV contract, I'd be tempted to switch everything to cable, but that won't happen for a while now.

  • Pay up BellSouth! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hoggoth (414195) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:27PM (#14491027) Journal
    BellSouth should be paying the big content providers for giving them a reason to sell bandwidth. Without iTunes and Google and all the other content providers why the hell would anyone buy broadband? I'd love to see some big content providers hit BellSouth back by requiring them to pay fees or get cut off from their content. That would kill their ISP business in a hurry.

  • by Esion Modnar (632431) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:35PM (#14491088)
    I see a RICO lawsuit headed their way...

    It seems that some of the actions of big businesses differ (in spirit) less and less from those of organized crime. The objects of their businesses may be different (telecommunications vs., say, cocaine and sports bookies), but their methods are becoming startlingly similar. Protection schemes. Price fixing. Extortion and intimidation.

    And does anybody really believe that Enron witness *really* committed suicide? At a stop light? C'mon...

  • Errata (Score:3, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:39PM (#14491119)
    Now, if Bellsouth loses of customers to VoIP

    should have read

    Now, if Bellsouth loses {some large number} of customers to VoIP

    ...but the filter didn't accept the carats I originally enclosed it with.

    Also, I'm well aware that many of these providers' networks were originally built witt government subsidies (i.e., our taxes), and/or continue to be built and maintained at very tax-advantaged rates, and that many operators have what is essentially a government-mandated monopoly for the "last mile". However, even with all of the advantages, it still costs massive amounts of real money to build out, operate, and maintain. And minus the "tax advantages" or even subsides, that cost is still spread across the customer base. When you lose customers, something has to replace it.

    Now, is it "our" responsibility to figure out how to replace Bellsouth's lost revenue? Of course not. That's Bellsouth's responsibility. And, not surprisingly, that's exactly what it's trying to do. And, even less surprisingly, without doubling broadband customer rates, which would come with its own problems.

    As much as we can bitch about lack of competition, legitimately, and all of that sort of thing, having a healthy physical wired infrastructure, whether it be twisted pair and/or coax (or fiber), across the majority of the country is critically important. The model by which all of this physical infrastructure is maintained is probably here to stay for a while.

  • Re:There goes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lowrydr310 (830514) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:40PM (#14491127)
    What you said is the reason for their mentality. VoIP is eathing their lunch, and they're struggling to find any way they can to bring in more revenue and make their shareholders happy.
  • by styxlord (9897) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:50PM (#14491210)
    Its not just you and me as ISP customers, businesses don't get bandwidth for free, they pay their ISPs who will have peering agreements with everyone their connected to. The notion that there's this poor man in the middle who's not getting paid is absurd. This is extortion, plain and simple and is likely (as many have pointed out) a reaction to VOIP more than anything else.
  • by fatboy (6851) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:53PM (#14491240)
    I would like to see content providers such as Google and Yahoo! NULL route Bellsouth's Netblocks for 72 hours, in protest.

    Let's see who really needs whom more.
  • Re:Peering (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:02PM (#14491320)
    In order to complain to the FCC you must be a customer of BS, submit your complaint in writing and include a copy of your telephone bill.

    And I think here is the crux of the issue, in a nutshell. BellSouth plans to charge non-customers for the services used by their customers.

    The solution isn't simply to refuse to pay up, what's needed is to IDP BellSouth until it realizes that content doesn't grow on trees, and it has to explain its actions to its customers when the tech support calls start coming in.
  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Art Tatum (6890) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:08PM (#14491375)
    That's the biggest problem with the stock market. Almost everyone sees it as little more than a state-sponsored lottery. You "bet" on some numbers and hope you win. There seems to be little understanding that the goal is to support a business you think has good chances for long-term success.
  • Re:Greed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mnemia (218659) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:19PM (#14491490)
    The stupid thing is that content providers DO pay for the Internet, as does Bell South. Everyone who connects to the Internet pays for it in the form of fees to their upstream ISP. Bell South is just trying to do an endrun around the economic process in which money percolates upwards from the connection points to the people who run the backbones. They aren't content with just providing a local road and getting paid by local residents for it. Instead, they want to also charge everyone who drives into their "neighborhood" of the Internet, and get twice the money. Loose analogy, I know, but this decentralized way is how the Internet is designed to work and be funded.

    As I said, I think this is more intended as a way for them to extract tolls from VoIP. They can't stand that they won't be able to charge exorbitant fees for basic phone service anymore, so they are trying to claim that their customers can't access services that don't pay them. It may also be that a couple of Bell South execs saw Google's share price going through the roof and decided that they would try to get a piece of that pie.

    Also, I wouldn't count Bell South out on winning this one just yet. The Baby Bells may have the FCC on their side, and the FCC is one of the most corrupt, crony-filled agencies in the entire government. They might be able to buy favorable legislation and regulatory rulings if they can't win in the market.
  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cramer (69040) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:21PM (#14491507) Homepage
    You're only paying for 1M between you and the DSLAM. Beyond the DSLAM, I'm certain you're not going to always get your full rate. Case in point, I know of at least one DSL ISP that sells >1M connections to DLSAMs feed via 768K frame T1's... it is impossible to see greater than 768k to any single connection; and then, only if you are the only one moving any traffic. Even the ones feed by DS3 are oversold by a factor of 12. (which is actually a little better than the industry average.)

    The claims of "not shared" are 100% marketing bullshit. ALL BANDWIDTH IS SHARED. Unless you physically run a wire from point A to point B to move your bits, your bits are mixing with everyone else's. Even the p-t-p T1's and DS3's sold today aren't 100% p-t-p... those idle timeslots are wasted bandwidth telco's want to sell to someone else (and DO.)
  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by shawb (16347) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:37PM (#14491649)
    population density. It costs less to maintain all that copper/fiber/whatever over shorter distances. Also the American business mentality which says profits must increase every year.
  • by sjames (1099) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:42PM (#14491698) Homepage

    It would seem that BellSouth (hereinafter known more appropriately as BS) has forgotten that their CUSTOMERS have already paid for the network. THEY pay BS to be able to pull 3rd party content through the network to their machines. The content providers should charge BS for giving people a reason to get DSL. After all, if they were to all null route BS's IPs, everyone would switch to cable overnight. I just can't imagine advertising with "Access the few parts of the Internet that are too stupid to realize we need them more than they need us" to be all that effective in getting people to sign up.

    So, if they actually get providers to pay them for network traffic, does that mean that they will quit treating 'power downloaders' (that is, CUSTOMERS who PAID for unlimited Internet access) like freeloaders?

  • by denissmith (31123) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:56PM (#14491830)
    The beauty of the Internet is that it creates a reliable network for advanced services on top of an unreliable (or unknown reliability) network. In short the telcos want to do what the telcos always wanted to do, prove that packet switched networks are costly and unreliable by MAKING them so - VOIP works best when it isn't discriminated against, as does everything else. The telcos goal is to discriminate against services outside their control, they could work out a deal with other telcos to account for internetwork traffic by tracking the bits by network address. They would rather charge Skype for 'using the network' so that they can sell BellSouth branded VOIP, then set the router to slow Skype traffic unless Skype pays up. The real answer is to limit the telcos to infrastructure and prohibit them from offering services. They won't like this, because it isn't sexy . The old Al Gore metaphor (I know, it drove me crazy, too) of the Information Superhighway is actually apt. The Network is a public infrastructure, like a road or navigable river, and it needs to be 'regulated' like one, which means that companies who want to own and operate the public networks need to be restricted in how they can control them. Some think this is an unfair intrusion on the rights of ownership of these companies, who have all this shareholder money invested. They forget that until very recently the telcos were all guaranteed profits in exchange for the regulation that they were subjected to, and these networks were all paid for - every pole, switch, etc overseen by State PUCs. Shareholders had very little risk until the late 90's. Basically, until a couple of years ago these companies couldn't threaten to do what BellSouth is attempting. Most likely the moves are a signal that BellSouth, in its deregulated environment, is making poor decisions and is grabbing for whatever income it can, which means it will probably slowly sink. This isn't necessarily a good thing, or necessarily a bad - but a lot of damage to the public can be done.
  • Re:There goes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by man_of_mr_e (217855) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:01PM (#14491879)
    One reason is that there's already a ton of infrastructure in place, and that infrastructure is not designed to handle high speeds, which means replacing it over time. In newly developed countries, high speed infrastructure was put in place initially.

    Another reason is that our government incurs a HUGE amount of administrative overhead in telecommunications, with all kinds of rules and regulations, policies, paperwork, requirements, etc... Not that all those are necessarily bad things, especially in a competitive telecom market, but it does add to cost.
  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:01PM (#14491882)
    Or that's like ATM vendors charging your bank to provide service through an ATM, and your bank passes that fee on to you. Then, the ATM assesses you a surcharge directly, which is added to the other fee.

    Oh wait, this one happens...
  • Re:There goes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:08PM (#14491953) Homepage
    Why is bandwidth so much cheaper in Europe, Eastern Europe and Asia?

    Because many countries in those regions have some active policy to promote internet availability, and at least in case of Europe, have regulations to level the playing field for competitors of their former state monopoly telcos.

    Breaking up AT&T years ago bought the system time, but didn't solve the actual problem, having created a 'monster' that does not need to care about its customers.

    It did not solve the actual problem because it failed to seperate service and infrastructure, your typical local telco still provides both, and few people have a choice between multiple local providers. Sure, you can drop the telephny network alltogether, go cable and use VOIP, and let someone else interface you with the telephony network, but there we just move to another kind of infrastructure dominated by companies with an even bigger problem, not only do they do infrastructure and service, they strongly believe they are also doing content (filtering and management that is)

    This problem might be solvable by forcing slightly different rules on those active in the telco market, you either sell infrastructure and everything related to that, or you sell end-user services. You can't do both, or when you do, you have to make your infrastructure available to the competition for a fair price (ah.. seem to remember that for a while such a condition existed in the USA..)

    Bottomline, the solution is in forcing both telcos and cable companies to stop abusing the effective local monopolies that they currently hold.

  • Re:Competition? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bad Boy Marty (15944) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:15PM (#14492025) Homepage
    I believe this is a good thing. As soon as Bell South customers realize that they are *not* getting the content they desire, they'll migrate to other carriers, thereby putting Bell South out of business -- at least out of the Internet business. I will strongly suggest to their subscribers that if your Internet Service Provider does not treat all web traffic identically, then you acutally have a Localnet Service Provider, and as such, they have no legitimate reason to carry *your* traffic.
  • Re:There goes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Cramer (69040) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:15PM (#14492036) Homepage
    If I started receiving bills from Sprint every time my Cingular phone called a Sprint phone, then we'd be looking at a valid comparison.

    This is call "reciprocal compensation"... the telco originating the calls pays the telco terminating the call. It used to be 5cents/minute, or 2, something like that. Remediation is it's own industry.

    Guess what. Bellsouth has been sued numerous times for refusing the payup their part while demanding everyone else pay them for terminating calls. That's right, Hellsouth wants to be paid for terminating calls but doesn't want to have to pay others for the same service. They're just stupid, greedy little f***s.
  • Re:Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@aol.LISPcom minus language> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:17PM (#14492045) Journal
    "Everyone call BellSouth's tech support EVERY time a download is slow (below the speed they paid for). They will be so mired in support calls that they will have to re-consider the policy."

    I dunno, there are three people in India for each man, woman, and child in the US. I think they can handle as many calls as we throw at them...
  • by PMuse (320639) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:20PM (#14492095)
    Bell South, like the-corporation-formerly-known-as-SBC, thinks it has a user base and that it should charge content providers for access to the userbase.

    BS and SBC want a closed-content system. There were closed-content systems in the past: GEnie, Prodigy, Compuserve, AOL. Users abandoned them for the open internet, where they could get any content they wanted. The number of households online skyrocketted.

    If BS and SBC succeed in levying these fees, they may find users abandoning them, too. What user base will they sell to the content providers then? This plan is doomed.
  • by steve_l (109732) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:22PM (#14492125) Homepage
    They dont need to give web browsing a bad experience, as its quite hard to do. You either limit monthly data yse (=very unhappy users) or throttle bandwidth (often too subtle to notice on a busy site).

    What they can do is give VoIP packets a bad experience, and drop VPN packets on the floor altogeher. Want SSH? pay more. Want IPSec? Pay much more (in theory Comcast charge a premium for this BTW). But VoIP? you just slow down the packets. Bandwidth can be maintained, but suddely google talk and yahoo phone start working worse than bellsouth approved partners.

    The other latency-sensitive market is gaming; I wonder how much they want off the X-live people for X-box players.

  • Re:There goes (Score:2, Insightful)

    by manno (848709) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @05:24PM (#14494044)
    I can't wait till Billy G [microsoft.com], or Stevey B [microsoft.com] get's a bill from Bellsouth for 5 cents a security patch automaticaly downloaded from "Windows Update".
    That will go over like a fart in church. This thing is going straight to court, but fast!

    -manno
  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @06:16PM (#14494540)
    The less popular channels run commercials just as well as other channels do, and if they command lower rates, well, they also happen to have lower costs (e.g., Sears doesn't need to be paid off in order for This Old House to run, but by contrast

    It has nothing to do with funding the channels, it has to do with funding the company's subscription fee for the channels. If they offered everything a-la-carte, the less popular channels may not get enough subscribers for your cable company to pay the flat fee required for them to carry the channel. By bundling them with the popular channels, the people who like the popular stuff are forced to pay for the less popular stuff.

    The current system artificially raises home & garde user rates to the level of sports channel users.

    Not so. Without the current system, the home and garden channel viewers would have to either pay the cost the channel charges to the station divided by the number of viewers in your area, or not have the channel available at all. Your average cost of the channel would actually go up for the less popular channels, and down for the more popular channels if they were all unbundled. That cost may even be higher when you add up all the channels you like that aren't very popular than the cost for the package is, because all those sports channel watchers wouldn't be part of the pool paying for you H&G channel anymore.

    It's all irrelevant though, because the company is going to charge you just under you maximum monthly tolerance for cash outlay no matter how they structure it. You're going to get some subset of the channels you want for the most you're willing to pay whether you get the channels you don't want along with them or not.
  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by aaronl (43811) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @08:49PM (#14495847) Homepage
    No, that does not happen. What *is* happening is that your bank either charges you a fee to use an ATM, or not. If they don't, and you use their ATMs, then you pay nothing. If you use an out of network ATM, they may levy a transaction fee. The bank that owns the ATM may also assess a transaction fee; after all, it is their ATM.

    So... your bank charges you for using a foreign ATM. The foreign bank charges you for using their ATM with a foreign account. That is why when you withdraw $20, you get debitted $21.50 and then get another debit for $1.50, for example. One goes to your bank, one goes to another bank.

    You could liken this to being charged to access Internet, and then being charged to access a certain web site. You're paying one fee to your ISP, and the other to the particular web site.

    It is *very* different from the scam that BellSouth is planning.

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