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Hardware Firms Go Against Crowd on Net Neutrality 292

Posted by Zonk
from the turncoats dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Some of the largest hardware firms in the world, like Cisco and 3M, have sent a letter to U.S. policymakers asking them not to be too hasty on mandated net neutrality laws." From the News.com article: "'It is premature to attempt to enact some sort of network neutrality principles into law now,' says the letter, which was signed by 34 companies and sent to House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. 'Legislating in the absence of real understanding of the issue risks both solving the wrong problem and hobbling the rapidly developing new technologies and business models of the Internet with rigid, potentially stultifying rules.'"
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Hardware Firms Go Against Crowd on Net Neutrality

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  • I personally believe that the government has no business regulating net neutrality. The government will be lobbied to the point where the bill actually does more damage than having a law in the first place.

    If you need proof of this just look at the anti-spam laws around the world that safe-guard "e-marketing".

    I actually suspect that this is going to go away by itself. Who is going to pay for this service? Imagine Google's reply to this: "You're going to make my traffic slower if I don't pay this fee? Well fuck you very much! In fact, I'm going to go to a new bandwidth provider who doesn't try to extort me.

    I doubt the PHB's have done the maths on this either. History is a great teacher, perhaps they should pick up a history book. Back in England in the 19th century the price of sending a letter was calculated depending on how far it has to go. Somebody realised that the cost of calculating the tariff actually costed the mail company more than extra profit they were trying to make. They introduced a flat fee and improved profits overnight.

    Ask yourselves this, how much is going to cost ISPs to administer this monstrosity? Suppose Google's homepage has to traverse 5 networks to go to my PC. How is Google's fee going to be split across these networks? That sounds like a big fucking pain in the arse to me. How many accountant's salaries am I going to have to pay to remit these funds? Balance this cost against how much additional profit are they are going to make. How much money can you make off bandwidth when it's literally pennies per gigabyte at these scales?

    Simon

    • "Imagine Google's reply to this: "You're going to make my traffic slower if I don't pay this fee? Well fuck you very much! In fact, I'm going to go to a new bandwidth provider who doesn't try to extort me."

      Its not the bandwidth provider they have to worry about -- its Peer Connections.

      For instance, if you want to connect to the folks that are on AOL, they may mandate that if their user want to connect to your service, they want a cut. After all, it is costing them money to allow users to connect to your service.

      At least this is how they see it, forgetting for the moment that the users already paid for the ability to connect to other services.

      But no, its not the 'bandwidth providers' they have to worry about -- its the companies that the end users are using that are demanding the money.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:25AM (#15356821)
        > "Imagine Google's reply to this: "You're going to make my
        > traffic slower if I don't pay this fee? Well fuck you very
        > much! In fact, I'm going to go to a new bandwidth provider
        > who doesn't try to extort me."

        You miss the point. It's not Google's bandwidth supplier that's the problem here. It's *YOUR* ISP. They say to Google: Hey - we have a million users, unless you pay us $X, they'll get 1Kbytes/second to Google and 1Mbytes/second to Yahoo. There is no "somewhere else" that Google can go to. Since the ISP's that get their funding this way will be able to charge their end users less, you'll start to see lower cost (to the consumer) ISP's popping up who get their funding from the sites they provide high bandwidth to.

        Who loses? Well, anyone who uses Wikipedia for example. Will Wikipedia be able to pay the top 100 ISP's a few million dollars a year? Certainly not. So you'll find that access to Wikipedia will be dog slow from these low cost ISP's and access to "insert soul-sucking megacorporation here"'s encyclopedia will be fast...albeit advert laden.

        I have a small web site of my own - people seem to like accessing it. Will they still come to it if it's uploaded at 1 character per second? No. Will I pay a dozen ISP's for the privilage of providing free information to their customers? No. Hence, all the 'little guys' who make the Internet such a rich and interesting place will *die* - and the Internet will be like cable TV - advert ridden - and showing the views of maybe 10 companies with 'ratings' and such determining what you see and content sinking to the lowest common denominator. Instead of Wikipedia we'll have soap operas.

        So what a non-neutral net does is push the funding of the Internet from consumers (who demand good service to the places they happen to want to visit) to corporations (who will now be the only viable information providers). It's a VERY serious matter.

        In an ideal world, consumers would realise this is a problem and refuse to buy Internet service from ISP's who don't practice net neutrality. However, because 99.999% of subscribers don't know anything about this issue, they'll choose whichever ISP is cheapest regardless of the fact that they'll be cutting themselves out of access to the more interesting places on the net.

        So - is this a case for government intervention...sadly, I think it is.

        This is the very same problem as with telephony where the government requires all phone companies to string expensive wires out to teeny-tiny non-profitable communities so everyone can have a phone. Without that, you would either have to pay a small fortune for a phone if you lived in a small town out in the boonies - or you wouldn't be able to get one at all. The 'universal service' provisions of the telephony act make that a fairer situation.

        It's the same deal with the Internet - ISP's should be required to provide service to little web sites and big ones equally and let the consumers decide where they want to get their information from.
        • You are correct in stating what the potential problem is. But I have yet to see anything which makes me think that goverment intervention is needed to prevent that from happening. Market forces will keep ISPs in line. If an ISP starts throtling Wikipedia, then users will switch ISP.

          • by cens0r (655208) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:56AM (#15357012) Homepage
            You give the consumers too much credit. They will switch to the cheaper ISP. If they have a choice of course. If I want broadband in Seattle I basically have two choices, Comcast or Qwest. What if they both decide to throttle wikipedia?

            Will the average consumer even realize that it is their ISP doing the throttling? They most likely will blame wikipedia.
          • by Phisbut (761268) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:57AM (#15357026)
            Market forces will keep ISPs in line. If an ISP starts throtling Wikipedia, then users will switch ISP.

            The same way that if an operating system gets all buggy and filled with viruses and vulnerabilities, then the users will switch operating system...

            Unfortunately, that's not going to happen either. The users will keep using what they have always been using and what they are comfortable with, and they will tolerate, even enjoy, any raping that the big corporations will shove up their butt, and then they'll demand more.

            Cell phones, ISP's, operating systems, WalMarts, gas... the average customer doesn't want to make the effort to vote with its dollars.

          • by FictionPimp (712802) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:22AM (#15357185) Homepage
            I used to work for a very large midwest ISP. I did tech support. I would get calls constantly about our horrible service. We would drop connections, have hours of down time, lose emails, etc. I actually told some customers who were cussing at me I would cancel their accounts for them. I never had a single customer cancel service ever. I worked from 1996 to 2001. The only customers we ever had cancel where happy customers.
          • Market forces will do aboslutely shit.

            The few big telcos there are will collude and we will lose net neutrality.

            Customers will end up paying more for the internet or will not be able to access the sites they want to at the speed they are paying for.

            The hardware companies are for this because to implement a tiered internet, those same big telcos will have to buy new hardware. What a suprise.
          • riiight. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by nightsweat (604367) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:36AM (#15357288)
            The market will cure all. I'm still boggled by the literally TWO choices I have for a reliable ISP.

            "The Market" is no magical thing. It's not natural, it's not a cure-all. Markets are formed by rules and regulations. Net neutrality is a reasonable imposition on the market for bandwidth.

            If you doubt the Market is artificial, ask why we don't just get rid of contract law. I mean, buyers will just gravitate to sellers who live up to their contracts, right? No need for enforcement.
          • You are correct in stating what the potential problem is. But I have yet to see anything which makes me think that goverment intervention is needed to prevent that from happening. Market forces will keep ISPs in line. If an ISP starts throtling Wikipedia, then users will switch ISP.

            In many areas, there are only one or two high-speed ISPs, and there are substantial barriers to entry. But even where that is not the case, the problem exists that it may not be your ISP, it may be one (or, more likely, all) of t

        • I think you're greatly under estimating the consumer. The average person with decent internet access as it is has accepted that there is an X dollar amount that they must pay every month in order to maintain their connection.

          For example, I pay Cox Communications each month and in return I get unlimited access to the web (well, as unlimited as my bandwidth allows). What your proposing (rather, what I'm going to pull from your comment) is that it won't be the well established companies that pioneer this method, they have too much at stake if they're the only one adopting this. It will have to be some start-up that tries to make it's way in to the market by offering low-cost high-speed internet. Now, you've got this ISP throttling some sites, and making others faster, how does this benefit the user? If I wanted to pay $9.95 a month for dog-slow internet, I'd still be using (for example) NetZero. Now what good is it to me the consumer if the only sites I can access at a decent broadband speed are "Microsoft.com" or "CNN.com", absolutely none.

          Now perhaps there is a small sub-section of the general populace that would adopt this, but I think that in the end any company trying to use these tactics of moving the cost of service off of their customers on to the "content providers" will quickly realise, it ain't happening.

          To coin a phrase "It just don't make sense." Also another major downfall these companies would have to look out for is just being "kicked off" the net by the major back-bone holders.

          I dunno, I just see this as being more US-centric FUD, ooh the big bad companies are out to make money by "extorting" the "good guys", it's already being done, and I'm the one being extorted. Wake me up when I've got fiber to my house, a dedicated range of IPv6 addresses for every computer in my home and bandwidth that would make a script-kiddie nut himself all for less than $50 a month.
          • Now, you've got this ISP throttling some sites, and making others faster, how does this benefit the user?

            Ummm, it doesn't? That's the entire net neutrality point. Absent these safeguards companies like SBC have incentive to offer Google and Yahoo special deals: say, whoever pays us more gets 50% more traffic than your competitor. As long as they're careful, the slowdown will be relatively minor. Your average consumer is completely incapable of determining why Google is a bit slower than Yahoo; maybe

        • Actually AC --

          I agree with ya. Thats why my first line was "QUOTED" -- I was quoting from someone else that thought incorrectly.

          So good job of summing up the rest of what I just said though :-)
        • Since the ISP's that get their funding this way will be able to charge their end users less, you'll start to see lower cost (to the consumer) ISP's popping up


          No - you'll see the big boys making higher profit margins - this is how Big Business works.

          New ISPs won't have the user-base it takes to get a significant ammount of money out of content providers to even try cutting into the marke this way.
        • The problem is that the proper regulatory stance is responding to actual harm, not conjecturing about possible harm.

          It is at least as likely that the market will correct this: if AOL users cant access Google because Google refuses to pay AOL a higher rate, AOL's customers will leave. That's the whole value to a competitive market.
        • > There is no "somewhere else" that Google can go to.
          > Since the ISP's that get their funding this way will
          > be able to charge their end users less, you'll start
          > to see lower cost (to the consumer) ISP's popping up
          > who get their funding from the sites they provide
          > high bandwidth to.

          LOL. Can't fool me with that one! As if we'd ever see that happen. (Or just as likely, we'd end up getting the same speeds as Europeans, and we're "saving money" by paying just as much.)

          NEVER NEVER NEVER trus
        • You may want your ISP to pass all traffic equally but I want my ISP to give priority to timing sensitive apps like VOIP and possibly gaming over things like email and bulk file transfers. If you don't like how your ISP manages their bandwidth then switch to another ISP. What's that? You only have one ISP available? Well then THAT's your problem. Let's fix that rather than allowing congress critters to become our system admins.
        • It's *YOUR* ISP. They say to Google: Hey - we have a million users, unless you pay us $X, they'll get 1Kbytes/second to Google and 1Mbytes/second to Yahoo.

          And if they go through with that, the ISP is going to get X00,000 angry users flooding their support lines, complaining that Google (or whatever other customer favorite site) is loading too slow.

          The ISP's will spend more money answering those calls than they will bring in from the content providers who do decide to pony up the protection money. And that'
    • Charging someone like Google, or any other company for that matter, will start a flurry of billing. Charge Google? Sure! Then Google charges back for the services the ISP subscribers use. In the end it'll still be a net wash as far as profit goes, and just a lot of wasted energy and money chasing it all down.
      • In the end it'll still be a net wash as far as profit goes, and just a lot of wasted energy and money chasing it all down.

        Spoken like someone who's not a lawyer.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:41AM (#15356899)
        Charge Google? Sure! Then Google charges back for the services the ISP subscribers use.

        A lot of this discussion ignores how transport really works in the Internet. Having dealt with backbone issues since 1993 (ack! that's like... 200 dog years or something), let me share some perspective (apologies for length and anonymous - have a slashdot stalker/former employee who's off his meds to contend with):

        How transport works
        Contrary to a constant misnomer, there is not "a" backbone. There are numerous private networks operated by companies at various lower levels of the OSI model. Some own their own fiber and cable, while others lease IRUs (irrevokable right of use) - sort of like having a 15-year lease on a condo. Some have used the model Bob Collet (original senior executive of Sprintlink and CIX board chairman) was believed to have coined of "tier 1/2/3" providers. In this model, a tier 1 provider is sufficiently geographically diverse and connects to others via multilateral and more commonly (these days) bilateral connections to other tier ones. Traffic traveling between tier 1 networks is usually handled without settlement if there is not significant disparity between networks. Settlement is a nice word for fee, incidentally. Tier 2 networks are those that predominantly connect to tier 1s for their transport, and they pay the tier 1 for it. Tier 3 in the model connect to tier 2 for their transport and also pay.

        Google transport
        Google buys transport from several tier 1 networks. These networks have agreements with other networks to exchange traffic with each other, each bearing their own cost to get to the place where they meet up. These networks also have lots of tier 2 and 3 customers who pay them money for access since these 2 and 3 tier networks cannot afford the cost of an international high-capacity backbone which is pretty much the requirement before someone will enter into a bilateral (I'm horribly oversimplifying). Google has paid for its transport and probably has service level guarantees of traffic performance through the tier 1 networks it pays. Some DSL outfit like Verizon may buy transport from another tier 1 provider who connects to Google's tier 1 providers. If Verizon's access to Google sucks, it should get a better tier 1 or pay for its own circuits directly to Google. Seeking to charge Google for that transport is bizarre and not how things work - sort of like making rivers run backwards (which usually requires an act of Congress).

        Eyeballs vs. Content
        This "Google must pay Verizon for access to their eyeballs" issue isn't new. It's been fought since some first saw it rise in 1995-1996 when some NSF-connected tier ones decided to mess with PRDB (policy-routed database) routes and limit access to NSF nodes (as the NSFNET was operated by ANS under NSF contract - separate and lengthy discussion). NSF was the content of the day and a few, such as the BBN NSF regional acquisitions (e.g. NEARNET and other nonprofit networks which were acquired by the for-profit BBN and instantly pushed into a network access battles) decided to try to limit access in order to extract more fees.

        BBN got hammered then, and again learned the hard way with the whole Exodus and Genuity battles. Again, one party which was mostly consumer customer oriented decided to charge the producers of content for access to those consumer eyeballs. The result was similar to the response your local cable TV outfit would get by threatening HBO that it would be dropped or relegated to one channel if it didn't pay the cable company fees for access to their eyeballs. HBO knows consumers will just switch to Dish or DirecTV. BBN learned when numerous commercial clients dropped their T1s and switched to a network that wasn't inferior in its access.

        Bandwidth Hogs and QoS?
        There is a real issue here, but it isn't what the consumer broadband providers are telling you. DSL and Cable Internet have numerous QoS issues, are mostly obsolete standards incapable of provid
        • Very interesting and knowledgeable comment. Perhaps you can answer a question I've always had:

          To my mind, the only reason the telcos have any ability to even fight this fight is their government-sanctioned monopoly on the last mile. Basically as long as most consumers and small businesses have to start their traffic on telco copper, the telcos can restrict their access to all the other "backbone" providers. If that monopoly were broken, then a consumer could in choose whether they wanted a net-neutral IS
    • by PepeGSay (847429) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:16AM (#15356775)
      The reason a legislative approach is being taken is because that is the approach the telcos are taking. Technically, if AT&T wanted to just make more money to upgrade service they could renegotiate tiering and bandwidth agreements. No legislation necessary. The thing is they don't want to make more money to upgrade service, they want to use this as an excuse to introduce tiered service. And there are legal impediments to them introducting tiered service. Tiered service is like honey for monopolies and duopolies. It reinforces the only barganing chip they really have which is to not to just say "We're your only choice." but "We might not let you on our network, and we're YOUR CUSTOMER's only choice."

      Net Neutrality in my mind is comparable to forcing the Bells to allow other people to sell telephones that hooked into their network.
      • Net Neutrality in my mind is comparable to forcing the Bells to allow other people to sell telephones that hooked into their network.

        Its not merely comparable, but with the increasing popularity of VoIP, it is the exact same thing.

        Which is, of course, why the telcos are so eager to find any excuse to get rid of it. They've always wanted to be free to leverage their monopoly on the wires to control everything that attached to them, and every business that relied on them, which is why they were subjected to c

    • Ask yourselves this, how much is going to cost ISPs to administer this monstrosity? Suppose Google's homepage has to traverse 5 networks to go to my PC. How is Google's fee going to be split across these networks? That sounds like a big fucking pain in the arse to me.

      Actually, connecting to Google is usually easier than this, thanks to points of peering and the like. From where I am, Google is just 10 hops away, and most of these take place between my ISP and a subsidiary. The last two hops are a direct gat
    • It's not a business issue, it's a freedom issue. They shouldn't have the right discriminate information flow in any way. It's just not an allowed business model period, any more than Toyata has a say where you drive your car.

      Perhaps the politicians are muddling things up and need to slow down, but nuetrality must be observed in the end. Governments exist to protect us(in theory), and legislation will do that because trusting companies or the market is gambling with liberty, and unacceptable.
      • They shouldn't have the right discriminate information flow in any way. It's just not an allowed business model period, any more than Toyata has a say where you drive your car.

        Not such a good analogy, since Toyota is selling you a car while ISPs are renting you bandwidth. A better analogy would be a landlord saying 'this house is cheaper than others, but you can't have pets and you must be silent after 10pm.' There is nothing wrong with this business model in the general case, because you can always g

    • by kanweg (771128) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:21AM (#15356800)
      Well, your first sentence says it all, doesn't it?

      I read three tomes by Robert A. Caro on Lyndon Johnson. At some point in time electricity company was forced to sell electricity at a lower rate, which the company strongly opposed to. The government won, and later the company had to admit that they made much more profit. This story is not to demonstrate that government always knows best, but to demonstrate that free market also doesn't always know best. Your popular belief is as wrong as the opposite. The only valid point is, look at each issue individually.

      Other points not discussed in your contribution: Inertia from consumers to change provider (with all the concommitant hassle, especially now you can't take your e-mail address with you).

      Another casse in point: Here in the Netherlands we have to pay for all kinds of banking services, each with their own rates. Only boring IT guys got happy because of this. I think it is completely in line with current behaviour of companies to start inventing all different kinds of things to charge for. xyz packets will be more expensive than pqr packets. You see the same thing (at least over here) with Internet over your phone. One pays megabucks per megabyte. SMS the same thing. Compared to the number of bytes required for voice it is nothing, but they are charged at a premium.

      There is also the contagious nature of the behaviour. If one provider does it, and charges another provider, then the other provider has to pass on the cost, and will start doing the same. And on it goes.

      I'm perfectly happy with laws that require ISPs to pass thru any packet irrespective of its type.
      • I read three tomes by Robert A. Caro on Lyndon Johnson. At some point in time electricity company was forced to sell electricity at a lower rate, which the company strongly opposed to. The government won, and later the company had to admit that they made much more profit. This story is not to demonstrate that government always knows best, but to demonstrate that free market also doesn't always know best.

        While the free market does not "always know best" it is the best method we've been able to use for fig

    • Your reference to the fee to send mail is interesting. But the same can be said for road tolls. It almost always costs more to run toll booths than the gain in money to support the roads. The tolls actually mostly support the tolls. Yet it doesn't prevent most areas from keeping up their road tolls. It would make much more sense to drop them and use local taxes to support the roads, but in today's government logic just doesn't prevail.
    • The government will be lobbied to the point where the bill actually does more damage than having a law in the first place.

      If you need proof of this just look at the anti-spam laws around the world that safe-guard "e-marketing".


      What kind of argument is this?

      "The government will be lobbied to the point where the bill actually does more damage than having a law in the first place. If you need proof of this, just look at the laws that prohibit dumping of toxic chemicals into waterways, or the laws that preven
    • I'm all for a free market, but Adam Smith's Invisible Hands are tied here.

      Most people are lucky to have two broadband options: DSL and cable. These companies are granted monopoly status on broadband services by governments by being given access to our public right-of-ways and subsidized by taxes for rural build-out.

      In return for allowing them to string wires and fiber all over the place, it is perfectly reasonable for us, the public, to demand that the services they provide be neutral to the content we want
    • Imagine a cash grab where all of a sudden toll booths appeared all over the place on what were once public roads. Cisco and its ilk in this scenario are people expecting to sell toll booth hardware. That they are lobbying for their interests and against yours is not surprising.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:58AM (#15356682) Homepage Journal

    What companies will profit the most from a tiered, fee-for-QoS internet? The hardware companies which make the products to do this stuff...
    • At last, someone who understands exactly why Cisco, 3M, etc. would write such a letter. Mod this up!
    • by HughsOnFirst (174255) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:11AM (#15356756)
      When I worked at Cisco, the big plan in many of the product groups was to move the intelligence away from the edge of the network as a way to keep Cisco routers from being commoditized.
    • I'm surprised this wasn't the top comment!

      The edge market for low end routers has been hammered by DSL and other cheap hardware and there's only so much core router market growth.

      It's obvious that the core vendors see tiering as a huge selling opportunity for new hardware and software.
    • My university safes tens of thousands on bandwidth by prioritizing web traffic and email over bittorrent and kazaa. What does net neutrality have to say about this? I don't think this issue is as cut and dry as you would like it to be.
      • by lordcorusa (591938) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @02:46PM (#15360160)
        One of the most terrible outcomes of this recent issue is the conflation of the terms QoS and Net Neutrality. By disambiguating these terms, the issue becomes much clearer.

        QoS was designed into the protocol stack to allow a network provider to provide priority routing for realtime types of service over non-realtime types of service in the presence of contention for limited bandwidth. The idea is that basic services such as HTTP, FTP, and other non-realtime types of service are useful even when the link is temporarily slow, so they use a low priority. Types of services like VoIP or streaming video become completely useless below a certain bandwidth threshold, so they use a higher priority. Overall, the priority is set based on whether the given type of service is useful in the presence of low bandwidth.

        It is also worth pointing out that tradionally, QoS only comes into play when there was more traffic passing through a router than the router could handle in a given instant.

        The QoS protocols were never intended to discriminate based on network endpoints. If EntityX and EntityY provided the same type of service, QoS was not intended to be used to give EntityX an artificial boost over EntityY.

        So keep in mind when thinking about Net Neutrality that you are discussing a whole level of issues over top of traditional QoS. In its basic form, shaping traffic based on protocol types, QoS causes no harm. Only when traffic shaping is done based on endpoints does the topic stop being QoS and start being Net Neutrality. Most likely, the traffic shaping you are referring to in your post prioritizes based on protocol types and applies those prioritization rules regardless of endpoint; therefore you are talking about QoS, not Net Neutrality.

        A completely separate issue you bring up that bears consideration is the idea of what constitutes an ISP. Many organizations allow their employees to use the Internet, nominally pursuant to organizational goals. I doubt any one would object to such organizations applying whatever limits on use they want. On the other hand, commercial ISPs exist to sell Internet access to people, and should not apply traffic shaping policies, especially when only a small number of ISPs are available in a given market.

        University Internet connections pose the most complex problem, but ultimately they too break down to simple categories. Within the context of administrative offices, labs, and classrooms, the university is clearly like any other organization and within its rights to limit Internet connections. However, many universities also share one Internet connection between offices/labs/classrooms and residence halls. Often, the students living in residence halls are required to pay some fee for the Internet connection (often rolled up into the costs of the dorm) and are prohibited from using an external ISP. In this context, universities clearly act as ISPs and should have the same obligations as ISPs. I am hoping that one of the outcomes of this issue is that universities are forced to differentiate their policies between office/lab/classroom and residence Internet connection, or give resident students a choice in ISP.
  • by popeguilty (961923) <popeguilty@NoSPAM.gmail.com> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @07:58AM (#15356683)
    ...capitalists defend other capitalists' right to profit by harming consumers.

    Now sports.
  • by Fhqwhgadss (905393) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:01AM (#15356691)
    Our lawmakers' real constituancy has spoken.
  • Regulate Who? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nbannerman (974715) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:01AM (#15356698)
    If the US wishes to regulate content within the US, then so be it. Legally, they can decide what goes on inside their borders. But the internet is a global network; regulation across national borders has never really worked. Off-shore banking, anybody? Are we going to see off-shore datacenters (aka Sealand) but on a grand scale?
    • I don't think the international aspect plays much of a role here. Most of the paid high-bandwidth services that could be hurt have both the service and the customer in the same country.

      Personally, I think the Internet, anywhere, benefits more from a network not held hostage by ISPs demanding a double dip or else get an unreliable link on the customer's end.
    • Re:Regulate Who? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by truthsearch (249536) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:46AM (#15356934) Homepage Journal
      It won't be regulated by the US (directly) on a global scale. As soon as the net traffic enters US-owned wires it'll be regulated. But I guarantee as soon as regulation is passed the EU will be pressured by the US to do the same.
  • by theonlyholle (720311) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:02AM (#15356702) Homepage
    If you were one of the companies selling the hardware that's necessary to create a tiered Internet, would you advise lawmakers to mandate net neutrality? I'm surprised that they don't take a clearer stand against it and only say that it's premature to discuss it at this point...
    • by jank1887 (815982) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:30AM (#15356846)
      DING DING DING DING, We have a winner!

      "
      Dear honorable congressmen and congresswomen,

      We, the network hardware manufacturers, took a bath at the end of the dot-com bubble due to (to simplify a bit) poor supply chain management (oversupply and the like). We are trying to make a compback, and find your net neutrality proposals quite troubling. We have spent a large amount of capital developing technologies that would be used, no, required, in a non-neutral network. In order to meet our revenue growth expectations, we need a non-neutral network. Please, don't be hasty. You could stifle **mysterious hand waving** technological innovation. You don't want to stifle technology, do you? Why do you hate technology? It creates jobs for Americans. You don't hate Americans, do you? Without jobs, how will they feed their children? Please, don't force a neutral internet, think of the children!

      Sincerely,
      The always altruistic corporations
      "

    • They see the winds are blowing slightly in favor of the anti-net neutrality crowd, so while this letter does add their voice, at the same time it makes them seem not to be speaking from blatant self-interest. They try to act as if their voice is semi-neutral and hopefully have more credence acredited to it.

      If the scales were tipping towards the net neutrality crowd they probably would have sent a stronger message. If a corporation doesn't see a great need to express a yes/no political opinion they general
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:06AM (#15356722) Homepage Journal
    'It is premature to attempt to enact some sort of network neutrality principles into law now,'

    Please don't do your job yet! Hear us out first.

    'Legislating in the absence of real understanding of the issue risks both solving the wrong problem and hobbling the rapidly developing new technologies and business models of the Internet with rigid, potentially stultifying rules.'

    You're all too stupid to know what to do. Let us educate you monkeys on the correct decision to make, so that we can keep doing the stuff we want to. We promise you'll come out of it looking good.

  • "The groups say the Federal Communications Commission must be given power to regulate broadband providers that might want to do things like charging content providers extra for the privilege of faster delivery or other preferential treatment."

    Preferential for those who pay more for it, as far as I can see this will just make the price of a high speed connection go even higher?
    Is this the price of progress? Or should we be grateful that these companies want to completely change the system in their fav
    • Let's face it, only the hardware makers and pipe providers stand to gain for a non-neutral(?) Internet. Of course the price of service will go higher, because they'll start charging you based on what sites you visit, so for example, going to Google might cost you a nickel, but going to Yahoo! or MSN might only cost 3 cents. Mind you, if you do enough searches, check your Gmail regularly, or spend a lot of time downloading high bandwidth stuff, the charges are going to get astronomical. It would appear that

      • If the price will go higher, who is to benefit other than these few corporations?

        I guess people will go back to dial up and South Korea will remain as the country with the highest average connection speed for its populace.
    • Preferential for those who pay more for it, as far as I can see this will just make the price of a high speed connection go even higher?

      Well, sure, that's the surface idea, in the sense that to get packets delivered at all (this is painted as "with higher priority", but since packets don't live forever, in practice this will become universal), you'll not only have to pay your direct ISP for the bandwidth, but pay every network provider over whose network your packets will travel for an additional toll for

  • "It is premature to attempt to enact some sort of network neutrality principles into law now," says the letter, which was signed by 34 companies and sent to House Majority Leader Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. "Legislating in the absence of real understanding of the issue risks both solving the wrong problem and hobbling the rapidly developing new technologies and business models of the Internet with rigid, potentially stultifying rules."

    So the hardware manufacturers are of course siding

  • by RingDev (879105) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:08AM (#15356736) Homepage Journal
    "...and hobbling the rapidly developing new technologies and business models"

    So yeah, enforcing net-neutrality, or making ISPs common carriers would destroy the market for replacing all back bone routers with Cisco QoS capable routers. I fail to see how a profitable business opportunity for a hand full of companies out weighs the freedom and equality of service for all online service providers.

    If the ISPs are NOT common carriers, can we sue them for transmitting child porn?

    -Rick
  • Broken down . . . (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jgaynor (205453) <jon@@@gaynor...org> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:09AM (#15356745) Homepage
    Original Article:

    "Some of the largest hardware makers in the world, including 3M, Cisco, Corning and Qualcomm, sent a letter to Congress on Wednesday firmly opposing new laws mandating Net neutrality--the concept that broadband providers must never favor some Web sites or Internet services over others."

    Here's how I read this:

    "Manufacturers of multi-layer traffic-shaping hardware sent a letter endorsing a business model that would require heavy deployments of multi-layer traffic-shaping hardware"

    It can further be broken down:

    "Money Good. No make law make us lose money."

  • No doubt the hardware companies have a vested interest in this and speak from a biased perspective. However, while most /. readers are well informed on such issues, most members of Congress aren't.

    There are the same folks who seem to believe a .xxx domain will increase porn on the internet and make it easier for kids to view porn. They can't grasp the simple concept that currently there is plenty of porn that is easy to access, and a .xxx domain will actually help filter that content away from kids.

    Do we expect these guys to understand and make a good decision regarding the future of the internet? With that it mind, I echo this message. Don't rush into a decision. Perhaps if they take their time one of two favorable outcomes will emerge.

    1 - Logic and reason will win out and good legislation will emerge.
    2 - Congress will release they have no fucking clue and just leave it all alone.

    I'm hoping for the latter over the former.
  • by Enry (630) <(enry) (at) (wayga.net)> on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:13AM (#15356766) Journal
    Yea Net Neutrality is something that the government shouldn't be regulating. But there's a reason the government is regulating it - the business community is unwilling to deal with the issue.

    There have been a number of cases in the past where the government says "Clean up your room. If you don't clean it, we'll clean it for you and we guarantee you won't like what we do."

    If Cisco and other large hardware vendors are so nervous of the government intruding on the Internet (as they should be), then they should be talking to AT&T. Once the major ISPs drop their crazy notion that they should be paid extra for something they're already doing, then the need for government intervention is eliminated.
  • 3M and Cisco stand to make a lot of money selling routers that will handle this kind of tiered internet pricing.

    Look at handsoff.org. It's a BLATANTLY obvious front for the telecoms. Well, somewhat blatantly obvious, they didn't really try to hide it because they put their logos on it. But they do make it sound more grassroots than it is. They did buy out some smaller grassroots organizations, and from what I hear some black politicians (some article on alternet.org). But don't be fooled, it is still an ope
  • This is just sad. This isn't an issue where there are valid points on the other side about why it might be good to have a tiered internet. It's CEOs and CFOs against the rest of the earth, and the fact that they might win demonstrates how badly our government is put together.

    Naturally, the companies that make and sell the hardware would be VERY happy to see a tiered internet. But I highly doubt that this opinion is reflected by most of the employees of the company. They are regular people who will lose-
  • Turncoats. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jesdynf (42915) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:18AM (#15356786) Homepage

    They want this trash because they can sell improbably expensive networking gear to starry-eyed ad executives. The fact that net neutrality -- the de facto standard until today -- brought them to this point is irrelevant.

    Yes, I know they're publicly-held companies; yes, I know that their apologists will shrug and say they have to be utter bastards. Not the point.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:33AM (#15356859) Homepage

    People like Rep. Sensenbrenner in Congress who advocate totalitarian controls over your internet use [blindmindseye.com] or a private business that can't legally tell you what to do except through a contract you signed with them? Quite frankly with the way that Congress is these days, I wouldn't trust them to regulate our local parking meters, let alone our section of the Internet.

    As far as anti-competitive behavior, like the Madison River issue, goes, there are existing federal legal mechanisms for handling them. It's not anti-competitive for Verizon to only sell 25% of their network. It's their loss if their customers want to pay for better access, but can't get it because Verizon is reserving too much of its network for its own service.

    The problem is, as always, government regulation at every level. There are enormous government-imposed costs on starting your own broadband or television service. The best way to create a competitive market is genuine deregulation, like ending all taxes and regulations on the construction and development of local private networks. All of them. Toss that spawn of satan out with the bathwater and be done with it.

    Now let me ask y'all this. If Sensenbrenner gets his way, raise your hand all of you who want the government to be your ISP via municipal services. That's a straight ticket to getting no sympathy from the court when your privacy rights are screwed by the government.

    • Luckily all those crazy people in congress have to run for election and have a tendency to want to appease their masses. CEOs, however, only need appease stockholders by making profit.
      • Where does the law allow CEOs to do the following:

        1) Take money from you at arbitrary rates and through arbitrary means (taxes).
        2) Regulate your public and private right to speak.
        3) Control your use of your own property without any contract being signed.
        4) Allow you to be detained in secret prisons and tried in secret courts outside of the US Constitution.
        5) Allow their agents (law enforcement) to spy on you, record everything you do online or say over the phone, kick your door in on flimsy evidence and do
    • Right, let's create a truly free market. I'm sure we can also magically erase all the funding the current "top dogs" have received from the government and our pockets. Let's also ignore the barrier to entry that exists because... where would a small local ISP even get the money for the permits to try and start laying cable in the ground to get that last mile?

      Your idea sounds great on paper... no, not even there. If by some miracle a small local ISP did manage to get something going, the big boys would
  • by Chas (5144)
    I pay for my network connection.
    The content providers pay for their network connection.

    These connectivity companies now want to start extorting a double payment out of the content providers.

    What the fuck is there NOT to understand?

    If they fucked up and aren't charging true price for a network connection, that's not our fault, or the content providers'. But this is racketeering, plain and simple.
  • Network neutrality and Qos don't contradict each other... as long as the customer and not the content provider is paying the bill.

    Each ISP can tell his customers "for extra 10$ you get priorized network access"... the market will show him if someone is willing to pay. But when they try to charge the content providers (Google, ect.) it's nothing else than an extortion.

  • In simple terms.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Bandwidth providers are now just providing a path for bandwidth to travel. The source and destination of that data and type of data are not revelent. They want to add a layer of supervision to that simple service so that they can collect fees based on the content and/or source and destination of that data. Basically equivelent to adding a middle manager to a service that many would say did not need managed. This middle management is not for stability, not for accounting purposes, not for increased prod
  • QoS vs neutrality (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wytcld (179112) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @08:44AM (#15356923) Homepage
    Some of the discussion is in terms of quality of service traffic shaping versus net neutrality. But they are different things. You can implement QoS in a neutral way, for instance by treating streaming video differently than e-mail. Streaming video needs continuous throughput to work well; e-mail works just as well in sporadic packets. So setting your Cisco to treat the two differently enhances the one without cost to the other. It's, in real terms, neutral.

    But if you set your Cisco to give better QoS to verizonporn.com streams, and to make the streams from qwestadult.com choppy (presumably because you're Verizon, or have been paid by them) that's not neutral.

    Traffic shaping where different classes of packets are given different routing preferences should not be restricted by law - within reason it improves the Net for everyone. Traffic shaping where the origin of the packets causes them to be treated differently is not neutral, not "common carrier," and should be totally illegal.
  • There is a simple reason these hardware companies are asking Congress not to legislate net-neutrality. If telcos are allowed to charge providers for "premium" service (essentially the service we have now before they start throttling back the non-compliant), they will need extensive and expensive upgrades to their networks. Guess who they'll have to buy them from?

    At the moment, the growth curve for hardware revenue has been hitting a plateau as most networks mature. Refreshment is like treading water, whi
  • easy solution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by buddyglass (925859)

    At least, theoretically speaking. Charge the end-user on a per-bandwidth-consumed basis. Voila. People who want to stream movies or torrent huge files will pay a premium. The rest of us who just web browse, check email, play networked games, and occasionally view a video clip...we pay the same (or less) than we do now. This way nobody's bandwidth is artificially limited. The only limit is how much you want to buy.

    ISPs could give people an initial "bucket" of bytes in exchange for a base monthly charg

    • Re:easy solution (Score:3, Insightful)

      by badfish99 (826052)
      This would work at first, just like it worked with phones. The heaviest users get to pay most towards building the infrastructure.

      But once there's enough infrastructure in place, the ISPs will find they have spare capacity, and won't need all their income to build more. Then one of two things could happen:

      • Prices go down, or ISPs drop the pay-per-byte model.
      • ISPs make huge profits and rip off the customer.

      Now look at the precedent of phones, and guess which is the most likely.

      So, do you want intervent

  • Of course! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Moflamby-2042 (919990)
    Capitalism backfires when it treats information as a product. It works when there are producers and consumers, but for information production there are only producers and viewers. It's an incomplete analogy that causes no end of trouble as time and law 'progress' seeking how to fairly handle this. In this case it takes the form of "can we penalize transfer of TYPES of data or by source/destination". Consider this akin to copyright or patent systems as they stand today in the same category as a bastardiz
  • Hrmm, let's see here. Telecom providers want to charge for best access to their pipes. Telecom providers buy LOTS OF NETWORK HARDWARE. Suddenly, hardware providers agree with them! I am shocked, SHOCKED to find them in bed together!! SHOCKED!
    • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:36AM (#15357291)

      Hrmm, let's see here. Telecom providers want to charge for best access to their pipes. Telecom providers buy LOTS OF NETWORK HARDWARE. Suddenly, hardware providers agree with them! I am shocked, SHOCKED to find them in bed together!! SHOCKED!

      You've hit the nail on the head here. Cisco and the gang have been trying to sell people on the new management and Quality of Service features for years. They can make a pile of cash selling ISPs the gear they need to know what traffic is coming from and going to a given location, what QoS that "customer" has paid them, and guaranteeing that the level is enforced. In fact, I work at a company that has tools that let them do that (among many other things) right now. I have stock options and profit sharing and stand to make a pretty penny myself if ISPs are not held to the same standard as other common carriers. I'm more than willing to not make that profit in exchange for things being done properly. Cisco and many others smell green. I've heard more than one network gear operator use the metaphor of the arms dealer. Arms dealers are in favor of more lax UN restrictions of arms buildup and invasion of neighboring dictatorships? Gee what a surprise.

  • by AnyThingButWindows (939158) on Thursday May 18, 2006 @09:52AM (#15357408) Homepage
    I think the largest problem these Baby Bells ate going to run into is support. They are going to be over run with support nightmares to the point to where people drop them like a rock. When Bellsouth announced they are going to do this, I, as a computer repair store, and networking consultant / designer, immediately dropped support for them. Me dropping support for Bellsouth affects over 2,000 people here. Most customers are on the local cable company which I gladly support for a smaller fee. Their owner is a net neutrality advocate as well as I. We see eye to eye on almost everything. Almost 500 of those 2,000 customers have moved from Bellsouth since a month ago. Now when someone calls, my statement is "We do not support Teired connections. You will have to contact your internet provider about that.". Then go on to suggest "Insert local cable & DSL company that is neutral".

    With influence comes responsability, I pray that I am up to the task, and do it right.
  • FYI (Score:2, Informative)

    by zerosix (962914)
    If this hasn't been mentioned or if anyone has concerns as to what Net Neutrality is there are many articles online that describe the pros and cons. Once such article is found on Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_neutrality [wikipedia.org]
  • From http://www.majorityleader.gov/ [majorityleader.gov]:

    Boehner: Budget Victory Demonstrates Republicans' Commitment to Fiscal Discipline
    WASHINGTON, D.C. - House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement after House passage of the FY 2007 Budget Resolution:

    Hastert is the Speaker of the House, not the Majority leader. If the summary can't get this basic fact right (or maybe it was the original article?), why believe any of the rest of it?

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