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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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  • Paid twice (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nixoloco (675549) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#14490529)
    But their other customers are paying for it. They just want to get paid twice!
  • by MasterOfUniverse (812371) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:35AM (#14490534)
    I know it sounds cheesy, but this is a big moment in the history. If we do not stop this, internet will be changed completely as we know it today. I hope people are outraged and something is done to stop this! Unfortunately, the media in US is completely ignorant of the importance of this thing...
  • Re:There goes (Score:4, Interesting)

    by altoz (653655) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:37AM (#14490551)
    Yep, separate the moronic ISPs who'll be out of business in 5 years and the innovative cost-effective ones that'll be in business for a while.
  • Is this a surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by denissmith (31123) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:40AM (#14490570)
    My understanding is that I have paid for a specific download and upload rate from my provider. That rate allows whatever content I download - iTunes or Limewire, applications and product updates. My Understanding is that Apple pays for their connection to the internet, as well, and that there is some level of service ( in bits/sec) that they pay for. So where is this - "they didn't pay us" The transmission of the bits has been paid for, whether those bits were html pages or mp3s or program updates is irrelevant to the discussion. This is all the outcome of the FCC decision not to apply the telecom rules to the broadband market and to 'regulate' it as an information service. All of which ought to sway those who argue that regulation is unnecessary that their view is inadequate, regulation can be good or can be bad - it depends on the regulations, but the lack of regulation always gives the person or group in a power position the right to dictate terms. Some people may argue that you can always switch from BellSouth, but that isn't reality for most people - it is their only choice. If telcos have mispricedthe service, for me or for the content providers, then the price for a level of service should, and will, rise, but charging to tilt the playing field (in favor of the paying content providers) will raise the barrier to entry, and ultimately it will foreclose certain types of internet use, specifically shared, non-commercial applications.
  • Charge$ (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Bilbo (765419) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:40AM (#14490575)

    Sounds like those who have a web site, even those with a small website, will be getting a bill from each provider that allows information from that page to pass to a user viewing that information?

    You've got mail....

    From Verizon, Cablevision, Time Warner, Earthlink, SBC, AOL....

    Good way to get rid of those small, annoying web sites by charging them into oblivion. Right???

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

    by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:43AM (#14490600)
    So does this mean a small website could sue for extortion or sabotage if the network performance is poor? With this liability and the potential loss of common carrier status for the "paid off" pages, I would think the company lawyers would be nervous. But then again, it seems no company is looking ahead to potential liability anymore.
  • by Sigl (691196) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:49AM (#14490665)
    I don't think they want to get paid twice. I think they want the aggregate influence of their subscribers to use as leverage against other companies. That's more flexible than money. If this is allowed it only moves the decision of what you want to use your internet connection for from the consumer to the communications company. Any idea why anyone would want this except ISPs?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:52AM (#14490692)
    This type of business extortion is not sustainable. Imagine putting up a web server and having to contact every ISP on the planet to pay for "premium" service. Imagine what the first 1000 tech support calls will sound like:

    cust> why does site foo load so slowly but site bar loads fast?
    supp> site foo did not pay for premium service across our network.
    cust> but _I_ pay you for access to the internet. and I want that site to load fast.
    supp> please contact site foo and tell them that.
    cust> but my friends connection at home loads everything fast.
    supp> uhhh hmmm.. please contact site foo and tell them to pay us for premium fee's.
    cust> ohhh nevermind, can I cancel service now?

    This system of premium extortion only works if _every_ isp on the planet does it. Let's watch them lose customers and see how adamant they are then.

    --jboss
  • Jump ship to where? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Travoltus (110240) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:54AM (#14490707) Journal
    Bellsouth DSL users, post up your alternatives... my bet is they're a network of regional monopolies. Of course if there's cable modems competing against them, the cable modem providers are probably thinking of a similar tactic.
  • It goes without saying that BellSouth are probably one of the biggest, if not the biggest, gateways between IPs in US and the rest of the world. But what about their Global reach?

    Will traffic between EU addresss be affected by this? EU and Japan? China? Middle east? India? Are Canadian content providers going to have to pay BellSouth extortion money to host for customers outside of the US?

    Anyone have any ideas on this? How long has his arm grown while the armies of good lay sleeping?
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:56AM (#14490730) Homepage Journal
    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).
    The scheme would probably work like this:
    1. Cap all traffic from everywhere at a certain rate or usage limit
    2. Charge either provider or subscriber for a higher bandwidth cap on a site. A subscriber could have a list of sites they would like as "premium" - maybe even submit a bookmark list on a micropayment per address scheme. The provider would of course pay for their sites or even individual files to be "premium".
    3. (obscene) Profit!!!
    Think of it as a modified cable business model.
  • by Yaa 101 (664725) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#14490742) Journal
    How is this different from current DDOS extortionists?

    Maybe a slight tech difference, but to me in a social context it means exactly the same.

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:01PM (#14490775) Homepage Journal
    Isn't BellSouth also an ISP? I guess they just cut their throats in that business.
  • Competition? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:02PM (#14490788) Homepage Journal
    And can I pay to have my competitor's service not accelerated?

    -Rick
  • In keeping with the Mafia theme, how about using the RICO [cornell.edu] statute. To quote: "TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 96 > 1961: Definitions > Section 1 "racketeering activity" means - (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: ..., section 2319A (relating to unauthorized fixation of and trafficking in sound recordings and music videos of live musical performances)..."

  • Turnabout.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Deton8 (522248) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:03PM (#14490794)
    So, does this mean I can bill Bell South for all the zombie PC's on their networks sending me spam? How about if Google charges Bell South a "delivery surcharge" to ensure that BS customers' searches are completed in an accurate and timely fashion? What if cnn.com only shows the first 50 words of each story to Bell South customers unless they receive an extra fee? Who is going to scream with pain first? If BS becomes an unusable paraiah network, where will BS be as a company in a couple of years?
  • by austad (22163) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:06PM (#14490829) Homepage
    Seriously, I hope everyone collectively gives BS the finger. Maybe their peers will have enough of them also and just de-peer them.

    It reminds me of the days where net access was charged by minute, only now they are charging people who are serving the content. And those people are already paying hosting fees and bandwidth charges from their provider. Peering agreements exist in order for the internet to exist. I'll let you route traffic on my network if you let me route traffic across yours... But now, it's let me route traffic on your network, and any traffic passing through mine I'm gonna extort money from the people serving the content. That's not how the internet works.

    What happens if Google, Yahoo, and other large sites get together and just block BellSouth's IP ranges so no BS customers can use their sites? You bet your ass that BS is going to lose customers if they can't access what they want. I would say that the Yahoo's of the world have got BS by the balls, because they could certainly block BS IP's, and BS could do nothing about it. If I don't want a certain IP range hitting my servers, I have every right to block it.

    Note that this will not stop transit traffic from passing through BS's network, but it will certainly piss of BS's customer base.

    And Mark Cuban's comments on this? He's an idiot. Maybe he should stick to commenting on things he has actual knowledge of.
  • by kfg (145172) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:07PM (#14490842)
    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

    Give the man a prize.

    If you include company's logo in your video game without asking you are likely to get a nastygram from their lawyers insisting you remove it.

    If you contact them and ask them how much they want to license the logo to you they will quote you a price and gladly take your money.

    But. . .

    If you contact them and ask them what they will pay for product placement . . .they will make you an offer and you can gladly take their money.

    Learn the equation. Work the side that works for you.

    KFG
  • by izomiac (815208) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:16PM (#14490920) Homepage
    Hmm... since connection speed can be slowed down at both the server and the ISP, couldn't a popular website do the same thing to BellSouth. Take Yahoo or Google for example. They could demand that BellSouth pay them a hefty monthly fee or they'll throttle any traffic to their IP space to 5 KB/s or perhaps add a 7500 ms delay. Such a slow speed (and an explaination from the website about the new two-tiered internet) would cause a LOT of customers to switch. (Why pay for high speed access if everything is throttled?) Websites obviously couldn't do this to every ISP, but they could certainly do it to any one of them. After all, since a lot of websites use ads to generate revenue, they probably couldn't afford to pay every ISP some fee. Of course, even if they did then their ads, being hosted on a different server, would either slow down their entire webpage (making paying the fee pointless), or simply not load before the user moves on.
  • by BlueUnderwear (73957) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:17PM (#14490935)
    The scheme would probably work like this:

    1. Cap all traffic from everywhere at a certain rate or usage limit
    2. Charge either provider or subscriber for a higher bandwidth cap on a site. A subscriber could have a list of sites they would like as "premium" - maybe even submit a bookmark list on a micropayment per address scheme. The provider would of course pay for their sites or even individual files to be "premium".
    3. (obscene) Profit!!! Think of it as a modified cable business model.
    You forgot:
    4. Pay all your obscene profit (and then some...) back to HNS, as patent infringment fees. Just Read claim #12 of EP1050117 [espacenet.com]:
    12. A method for controlling the rate at which data is transferred between a source computer (140) and a plurality of requesting terminals (110) comprising the steps of:
    • monitoring the rate at which data is transferred to each of the requesting terminals (110);
    • determining account information for each requesting terminal (110);
    • determining a level of service subsribed to by each of the requesting terminals (110) from the account information;
    • comparing the rate at which data is transferred to each of the plurality of requesting terminals (110) and the level of service subsribed to by each of the requesting terminals (110);
    • and controlling the rate at which data is transferred to each of the requesting terminals (110) based on the comparison
    Yes, they do patent stuff such as this (don't be fooled by the complicated language... it's really as trivial as "limit bandwidth by webserver and user"). While I usually don't agree with software patents, I have to admit that in this case it's beneficial: at least it prevents Bellsouth from being too annoying to its users and to the world at large ;-)
  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamieswith (682838) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:19PM (#14490964)
    Incredibly good point... It would be like your phone company sending a bill to everyone that you call... If you are already supposed to be paying for the entire call, what right do they have to charge someone else for the same call? I'd be tempted as a consumer to try to sue BellSouth for at least part of the cost of my DSL, since apparently I'm not supposed to be paying the entire cost of my connection - apparently the content providers are paying some of it - sounds like a simple case of over-billing! 2 slices of the cake indeed.
  • by IAmTheDave (746256) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {ds-evademanesab}> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:20PM (#14490971) Homepage Journal
    Charge either provider or subscriber for a higher bandwidth cap on a site. A subscriber could have a list of sites they would like as "premium" - maybe even submit a bookmark list on a micropayment per address scheme. The provider would of course pay for their sites or even individual files to be "premium".

    In the scenario where the Bells charge the customer more for a select couple of sites, if I were Google or Yahoo!, I'd be pretty pissed that a Bell thought it could charge more for MY services.

    "We'll give you better Google" assumes that they have the right to mess with Google at all.

  • by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <{sherwin} {at} {amiran.us}> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:25PM (#14491016) Homepage Journal
    No, this is just another point in making telecos look bad.

    http://blogs.zdnet.com/ip-telephony/?p=842 [zdnet.com]

    Why are the cable companies not doing this? Simple; it allows them to crush the telecos.

    In my area, we've got 2 cable companies, and 2 telecos. You sign up for DSL/phone service? 2-4 weeks install time, 1 year minimum contract, you often pay per-minute local long distance charges, you pay for your equipment, and your telephone bill is guaranteed to be ~10% high than what you expect. You need customer service? They'll charge you if the tech steps inside your house. They'll charge you if the tech finds nothing wrong outside your house. And it'll take the tech a minimum of 2 weeks to get there.

    You sign up for Cable/phone service? 1 week install time, max. Often next day service. I believe they even have a "20$ off your first bill if we don't install in 3 days" policy. No contract. Free equipment. Telephone service? All you can eat. Internet service? All you can eat. Before they will allow you to agree to service, they say, "Your first bill will be $X. All bills after that will be $Y. This rate is guaranteed till 2008. Do you accept?". Guess what; your bill will be exactly that price.

    Need tech support? 3 days at the latest. Generally same day, if you call in the morning. Most techs will give you their personal cell number, and one tech is assigned to your property; if you ever need service again, you'll get the same tech.

    And charge you for repairs? Hahahaha. Doesn't matter if its inside, or outside. We we're having connection problems. What does the cable company do? Run a new wire from the pole (~100 feet). Bury it for us. Run it into the house. Replace all the in house wiring (yes, inside the walls, thank god for straight shots, so they could snake it round). How much did this cost us? 0. It took 4 contractors to get the job done, too. That was a _job well done_ that deserved a tip (one of the few times I've tipped someone not out of politeness, but out of, "Holy shit, that guy did an amazing job.")

    If you watch TV in my area, you see commercial after commercial where the cable companies tear into the telecos. They make fun of contracts. They make fun of shoddy service. They make fun of all these crazy random fees. Soon they'll make fun of this QoS stuff.

    Having been on both sides of the fence, I have to admit they are pretty much dead on.
  • by Wubby (56755) <tduvally@@@duvally...com> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:38PM (#14491111) Homepage Journal
    Maybe I'm not understanding the issues here, but aren't the "providers" providing content to BellSouth customers through their network? I pay for a DSL connection and then stream video or have Vonage or some other use of the bandwidth, aren't I paying for the access already?

    Isn't this just BellSouth double-billing for the same service? Why not just recover cost from their already paying customers? I assume the answer is that they can't, either for regulatory issue or because they have already maxed out what they think their customers are willing to put up with.

    Here's a sneaky/evil idea. If you are an Apple sized company and you recieve this sort of extortion request, degrade the network performance TO BellSouth networks with a big old link to a notice as to why! Let your customers fight their ISP's for you!
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:38PM (#14491112)
    what next charging someone for receiving a phone call .

    Too late. That's your cell phone in action. By bringing out the same idea in new technology they have managed to get what they couldn't get with the old technology.

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

    by rahlquist (558509) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:46PM (#14491168) Homepage
    Yes bellsouth wants to charge you for both ends of that phone call. What else they want to do is force companies like VOIP providers to pay higher rates than say Google or Itunes and the VOIP provider has to pass that cost on to you. How much would bellsouth charge for such a thing, well probably something in EXCESS of what they charge the average schmuck for long distance service. Effectively making someone like Vonage charge their users more than BS has to charge its customers for the services.

    So they completely plan on screwing the end user. But hey as long as they are loyal to their shareholders who gives a flip about you lousy customers, you cost too much using all of that bandwidth we are selling to you! This doesnt remind me anything of monopolistic business practices.
  • Re:Greed (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ossifer (703813) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:58PM (#14491285)
    If I was Google, and BellSouth tried to extort money from me, I would simply shut down access to Google from BellSouth, replacing it with a page saying why, and giving BellSouth CEO's home phone number.

    I'm sure BellSouth recognizes the leverage the larger content providers have, and thus will be going after less established ones.

    Also, content providers aren't paying BellSouth to use their lines??!?! Well BellSouth isn't paying the content providers for their content!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:59PM (#14491293)
    ...complain. Because they deliver encrypted content for which a (DRM) license is accessed elsewhere. Those sending encrypted promotional content (date-limited single track from an album, for example) will not like the idea because, for them, it is cheap at the moment. One system in Holland from a national newspaper delivered time-limited exam papers (the exam would run on your laptop for the exam time) a little before the peak exam period to students as a successful promo. Will this sort of idea be crushed before it's really got started?
  • by BrynM (217883) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:03PM (#14491336) Homepage Journal
    I understand what you're saying, but it serves no purpose in this conversation.
    Bellsouth is [isp-planet.com] a backbone provider here in the US. Don't forget that SBC/AT&T or whoever they are today is thinking of doing this as well. How many content providers have servers on their networks? If they decided to both do this at the same time, that would be a major swath of the US backbone. I see your point about the captive consumer audience, but enough of the backbone here in the US has murmured about this that I think it's the direction they want to go in the future - they just don't want to be the first "asshole" about it. I agree that the backbone way of doing this is audacious and risky, but I think it's their endgame. I'm waiting for Sprint to dive in.

    Then again, we have no real data on how they intend to work this new business model. We just know they're greedy enough to want to do it.

    BTW: thanks for the BGP and AS Path-length idea. I'm off to read now after some googling :)

  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Cramer (69040) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:12PM (#14491419) Homepage
    The instant they start doing this, they lose the protection of 'Common Carrier' and instantly become legally liable for anything any of their customers do. Either their lawyers are idiots -- for not realizing this, or thinking they have a loophole -- or the PHB's aren't listening.
  • by CyricZ (887944) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:14PM (#14491435)
    What many people who advocate deregulaton fail to realize is that there was often a damn good reason why regulations were put there in the first place. That's not surprising, however, when you consider that many people were born 30 or so years after such regulation.

    Being fairly old, I recall hearing directly about the days of deregulated utilities in America from relatives I had living there. Situations similar to this were common, where the service would be terrible, if not outright exploitive. The users had no real choice in the matter, either, nor any remedy. Eventually things would get far out of hand, and regulations would be put in place and enforced.

    I always laugh when I hear Republicans talking about how much better it is for certain markets to be deregulated. They go on about the free market, and all that. But the regulations are there because the free market failed horribly, as it sometimes does, and thus government intervention was necessary. Not only that, but the people supporting such things were born years after the regulations were first put in place, and thus did not understand the conditions that lead to the regulations.

  • Re:Um, you new here? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by typan (853191) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:18PM (#14491472)
    I have to agree with the OP on this. While I was not on-line back in the day, was it really such a dangerous shift?

    Look at what this could mean: Right now, the whole beauty of the internet is the egalitarian nature of it. I, being just one fellow in a world of billions, can start a site -- any site I choose to really -- and have it seen by the world. If there is a commercial element to my site (ads or products) I then have the potential to compete with some of the biggest names out there. Blogs compete with newspapers worth billions of dollars. Small eCommerce shops compete with retailers who tower over them. You really can say that never has an opportunity existed.

    This is what makes me nervous about this new idea. Wouldn't the AMZNs & NY Times of the world back this for no other reason as they have the money to pay for this while Joe Upstart doesn't. Wouldn't that put everyone back in their place? Wouldn't that undo so much of what has happened over the last 10 years? That seems to be the largest threat that the Internet has seen.

    I am very doubtful it will happen, however. I have already read some comments that the FCC has made to the effect that this may violate some of the provisions that were put in place during many of the telcomm mergers. I have also read a few newspaper columnists already start to hit on this which could translate into politicians seeing this as something adverse to their constituents.

    In a certain sense, I feel like this is something that has to be decided. Ever since VOIP started to go mainstream, I wondered when the bandwidth providers would start to get pissy that people were actually using what they were selling.

  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TwinkieStix (571736) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:21PM (#14491501) Homepage
    Having been oversold is not the issue. When I use my cell phone, I pay MY cellular provider for the service. The other person pays his/her provider. When I use the Internet I pay my ISP, and the sites I visit pay their ISPs. 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.

    The nice thing here is that as a service provider, I don't need to pay BellSouth anything because I am not under contract with them. If they lock me out, then I can probably sue for extortion or, more likely, anti-competitive practices. BellSouth's cusomters can also sue when service providers stop working because BellSouth is advertising that they sell an "Internet Connection". Not part of the Internet, but the entire thing. Cutting some sites/services off is about as close to "false advertising" as I've seen a large corporation do in some time.
  • by DCheesi (150068) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:20PM (#14492098) Homepage
    Outright bandwidth caps would be too blatant, and would be easy to get around (even if default sources have a limited bandwidth, you keep adding/changing mirror sources to achieve the overall bandwidth you need).

    No, they're looking to pursue the IP QoS extortion model, which is a bit more subtle. It's a "frog in a pot" scenario: at first, just a few companies pay extra for a higher level of service. After a while, so many high-profile, high-bandwidth sites are paying that the service for non-paying sources degrades. Eventually things will get so bad that you won't be able to serve up any kind of content reliably without paying The Man. And the average user won't notice or care, because Ebay and MSN will still work fine...

    At that point, there will still be personal and hobbyist's sites, but they'll be painful to use; meanwhile non-profits and open-source ventures will be squeezed out, unable to play on a level field with the Big Boys.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:32PM (#14492238)
    These have all been chosen FOR me. So to call that a free market, and let these companies charge whatever they want, provide whatever service they want, and there's nothing I can do about it? Sorry, but that needs to be regulated. There is no free market when consumers only have one choice in product.

    They need to be more than regulated. Utilities and services which are monopolistic by nature need to be consumer owned, not privately run for the profit motive. Our local electric utility is consumer owned. Lincoln Electric System's (NE) costs are far below the national average, and our outtages are among the lowest in the country. Wages and benefits levels of workers and management need voters approval. The LES managers are always planning for the future. Some customers, me included, voluntarily subscribed to $6/month for one year for building and running two 1.2 MW wind turbines to test their efficiency and costs.

    Is community ownerhsip communistic? So what? We've seen what unbridled greed combined with a total lack of ethics and morals has done to our medical, insurance and other industries because government was "half-in" and "half-out". If there is ONE BIG REASON why the Conservative's popularity is declining it isn't because of Bush's handling of the war, nor is it because he wire-taps phone calls in which one end connects to known or suspected terrorists. It is because corporate greed, dishonesty and corruption has shaken the American people's belief in "free enterprise" system. Free enterprise requires that a majority of businesses are run ethically and morally and that can be done only by people who ARE ethical and moral. It has become obvious that American businesses are as corrupt as our Washington politicians, of BOTH parties. Did you lose your retirement within months of retiring and now have to work at Walmart to eat? Did Dick Lay tell you to buy Enron stock while he was selling it? Did business underfund their share of retirement accounts while putting deductions from your wages into them, only so your funds could be stolen because the company reniged when it came time to honor their agreements. Do you get tired of seeing sleezy executives rewared with million dollar salaries and bonuses for finding new ways to rip off the consumer? Example: Bell South claiming other ISP are "stealing" from them.

    Having government "half-in" gives insurance companies, for example, a free hand in Uncle Sam's wallet via the "co-ordination of benefits" clause in all health insurance policies sold today. If I can afford and decide to buy insurance premiums from two different companies it should not matter one whit to either one. They are getting their premiums, they've accepted the risks. But no, they "co-ordinate" their payments so that combined, their total layout does not exceed the benefit of the one with the largest co-pay. A clear restraint of free trade and a violation of the Clayton-Sherman Anti-trust act.

    But, politicians saw a way to create voter blocks for themselves by partially nationalizing medicine in the form of Medicare/Medicade and then later addng special interest groups to the list of beneficiaries. The special interest groups gets free, walk-in-off-the-street, no questions asked treatment. Even though I pay nearly $800/month for health insurance I am still denied access to certain services unless I pay for them myself. Do you have BPH? Sorry, BCBS doesn't pay for annual PSA tests. It's "regular or periodic" treatment, but the annual mammeograms my wife gets are not. I have to develop full blown prostate cancer before my insurance will begin to cover, even though preventive medicine is more economical. So, in addition to my health insurance premiums I also pay for doctors visits and medicine for BHP out of my own pocket. I wrote a letter to BCBS a couple of years ago stating that their policy excluded payment for treatment on the basis of sex, which is illegal. They said, "so sue us!", in effect giving me the middle finger.

  • Re:There goes (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @05:58PM (#14494377)
    > ...but only get 500K unless the service provider is paying
    > Bellsouth (and if this flys, every other telco) for the
    > extra bandwidth?

    Bittorrent anyone? Brahm is already working to help media companies use bittorrent. If you mix bittorrent with "user targeted DRM" (i.e. the locked content is freely available via bittorrent but the user needs to perform a short, low bandwidth communication with the content owner to unlock the content on her machine) then it becomes pretty hard for the carrier to sock it to the content provider.

    Heck, you could even distribute your DRMed content via old fashion binary Usenet newsgroups!

    In theory it is good and right that the internet should develop an end-to-end QoS (or Class of Service, if you prefer) system and it does make sense that customers who absolutely NEED realtime QoS should pay more. On the otherhand, if a VOIP customer is willing to deal with a lower quality UBR service that should be their choice.

    In practice I have severe reservations about the large carriers engaging in monopolistic practices. While the carriers should be allowed to develop and charge extra for end to end QoS, the must remain content agnostic. If I want to FTP files using RT-VBR QoS and run VOIP over UBR QoS that is my business.

  • Re:In other news... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 18, 2006 @04:56AM (#14497785)
    Man, I wish there was a -1, Free iPod Spammer mod...

    You want to take that crap somewhere where it's welcome?

Why did the Roman Empire collapse? What is the Latin for office automation?

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