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Two-Tier Internet & The End of Freedom of Speech 364

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the keep-ringing-the-bell dept.
Max Fomitchev writes "The proposed Two-Tier Internet bill threatens not only to raise prices on goods and services served online but also to seriously hamper free speech on Internet by allowing telecom providers choking user pages and blogs not associated with major content providers. What a perfect way of censorship..."
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Two-Tier Internet & The End of Freedom of Speech

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  • by beheaderaswp (549877) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:08PM (#15436183)
    QUOTE:
    "While Net Neutrality bill sounds like overkill, two-tier Internet bill is ought to be stopped too. If it passes freedom of speech would be seriously hampered, startups and small businesses will take a hit and we will pay higher prices for online advertising as well as goods and services delivered or sold over Internet. Do we really want that? I think not."

    His conclusions in the article are dead on correct. Though I disagree with his opinion on net-neutrality.

    The beauty of the internet, in my opinion, is it's ability to link people together while allowing an even playing field for small business. These have been the greatest social and economic impact points of the new technology era. Sadly, once it becomes tiered it also becomes discriminatory based on economic factors.

    Sure, your blog can be seen, but if it get's too popular you'll have to pay more...

    Sure, you can start a small business, but if it get's too busy you'll have to pay more...

    The idea that no one "owns" the net itself should be inviolate. I already am charged for the bandwidth that comes off my servers because of the cost incurred by my ISP for upstream bandwidth.

    A tiered internet would be the same as keeping the peasants out of libraries. It's a huge step *backwards*.
  • by Illbay (700081) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:09PM (#15436190) Journal
    We seem to have a "new class" of "article" light on content, and heavy on the ranting.

    Only the government can "censor" anyone. ISPs routinely "censor" content, and have no restrictions on doing so.

    Remember: Your right to "free speech" does NOT come with a corresponding right to be heard.

    Else why don't I have my own late-night talk show on a major network?

  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow.wrought@gmai l . com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:10PM (#15436199) Homepage Journal
    Since many a blogger rails hardest against corporations and their associated ilk, it makes sense for them tot ry and limit it. What is in the interest of business is a society whose information comes from marketers.
  • Re:REDACTED (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 'nother poster (700681) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:12PM (#15436212)
    Don't you mean "Sorry, Your IP isnot on your content providers basic subscribers plan. Please urge them to upgrade to the Premium Plus package to be able to serve content to you OUR customer."
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:15PM (#15436247)
    There are quite a few people out there - not just representatives of the telecommunications industry - under the impression that "Government Intervention Is Bad", hence we should all oppose network neutrality legislation. But this bill underscores the fact that government intervention by itself isn't necessarily bad - it's how government intervenes that determines whether the right or wrong thing is being done.

    So let's all drop this nonsense about claiming that the government shouldn't be intervening in how the Internet works, and get back to the core of the matter - which is whether the telecommunications industry should be allowed to leverage its oligopoly position in the broadband ISP market to extract profit from content providers that don't even connect to them directly, and whether the industry should be allowed to discriminate based on traffic type and content, rather than pricing by bandwidth consumption alone.

  • by eln (21727) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:17PM (#15436283) Homepage
    Editorializing in Slashdot articles is new? That cave you've been living in all this time must have been cramped.

    The very concept of the two-tiered Internet destroys what the Internet has been for years, which is a tool for global collaboration. With a two-tiered Internet, the entire multi-billion-dollar network basically just becomes a vehicle to serve corporate advertising to the plebes, as the "lower tier" sites become slow and unreliable.

    This is nothing but a money grab by access providers that will blow up in their faces. Most people use the Internet for social networking these days, and if those sites either essentially get shut down (by being part of the crappy lower tier) or are forced to charge users (because they have to pay exorbitant access charges to get on the upper tier), many people will simply drop offline, which will end up hurting these access providers in the long run.

    Content neutrality among backbone providers must be maintained in order for the Internet to continue to be useful to the public. Segmentation will kill the Internet.
  • by Pranjal (624521) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:20PM (#15436310)
    What happens if I happen to access a US server? Will my ISP be charged extra for the services offered by the website? If yes I think all US centric websites are screwed. The content will just move to international waters like most US MNC's who are incorporated in tax free zones. The internet does not revolve around the US you know.
  • by Cormacus (976625) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:21PM (#15436327) Homepage
    Yes, you are correct.

    However, I think the point is that the Internet started out with the liberating quality that it encorporated both the "right to free speech" _and_ the "right to be heard." You don't have your own late-night talk show on a major network because you can't write up one of those in vi beginning with "" and ending with "."

    It's this very quality that people are seeking to preserve when they rail against tiered internet plans. Not to mention the fact that these plans appear to be based on charging the consumer _twice_ for the same information.
  • Moving to China (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wjcofkc (964165) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:24PM (#15436350)
    Is it just me, or does communist China have a better grip on the overall "issue" of controlling the internet than the Democratic Peoples Republic of The United Sta....Errr I mean the USA.

    I really wish the government could just let well enough alone instead of completely fucking up the economy by way of fucking up the internet.

  • by briancnorton (586947) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:24PM (#15436353) Homepage
    Why is it assumed that the internet is the common property of all mankind? Certainly the infrastructure owned by governments around the world is held to one standard, but why do we assume that verizon, quest, etc somehow "owe" us? The internet is a commercial entity. Laying all that fiber was paid for (mostly) by companies expecting a reasonable ROI. The way to voice your opinion is with your wallet. Cancel your service.
  • Re:The difference? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:26PM (#15436379)
    So with this what's the difference between the USA and China? We are supposed to have Freedom of Speech, but I guess not.

    The difference is that in China, you've got the central government blocking/filtering (and arresting/jailing) based on the content of the communication. What you say triggers their actions.

    In the case being discussed, the content of your blog (your speech) or the content of some streaming media spooling off of a small company's server (as opposed to, say, AOL's or Google's) have nothing to do with it. Censorship isn't even part of the discussion. What's being talked about is who pays for the bandwidth being used. That's it. Period. If Google wants to make billions of dollars by being the go-to search engine for millions of Verizon's customers, then Verizon has every reason to place a premium on that gigantic peering arrangement.

    If a little mom-and-pop web site starts getting a ton of traffic from a Slashdotting, do you really think that their monthly costs don't go up? Who should pay for that... the ISP providing their pipe? How are they causing the Slashdotting? But it's the ISP's resources that have to suddently carry all of that traffic, and that comes at the expense of other capacity. This isn't about censorship, it's about the economic realities of the fact that huge IP pipes aren't a natural occuring resource - they're mostly built and run by private companies. You can talk all you want, about anything you want. But why should you be able to dictate to some other ISP how much of your traffic they should have to carry, and at what price?

    If you don't like the price they charge, you change carriers. If you don't like any of the prices available (meaning, you don't like the market), then become your own carrier (and see just how willing you are to maintain an artificial pricing scheme when "one way" traffic on certain peering connections account for the vast majority of your day's work and financial costs).
  • Re:Higher prices? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dnixon112 (663069) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:27PM (#15436390)
    Assuming that you're in a free market economy


    See that's where you're assuming wrong. The ISP market is not competitive and free. It's an oligopaly. The only choice customers will have is to either get broadband or not.
  • by fortinbras47 (457756) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:30PM (#15436417)
    All kinds of people are coming out with these parade of hypothetical horribles, but WHERE IS THE CURRENT PROBLEM??!?

    I don't know about you, but I am HIGHLY suspicious of the government's ability to do anything sensical when it comes to technology, and I can think of nothing worse than a law being passed to correct some theoretical problem that DOESN'T CURRENTLY EXIST and might never exist.

    What would happen if Congress tried to pass some Net Neutrality Law? Since there isn't any kind of ACTUAL problem now, I'm sure the bill would undoubtedly screw stuff up through the law of unintended consequences.

    Congress would insert all kinds of special provisions that would benefit some group at the expense of others, all kinds of new technology would become illegal, and lawsuits would proliferate. Who knows what would happen, the point is that when congress acts on technology (eg. the DMCA) they are likely to create a huge mess and things better be PRETTY DAMN bad before Congress can do more good than harm.

  • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:32PM (#15436432)
    Yes, but people aren't complaining about paying for more service from their own providers, they're worried about having to pay other providers so to not be choked off.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:32PM (#15436433) Journal
    Of course not, that would be silly. What the government is saying is that Verizon can stand at the door and take money from the organization to allow you in, as well as charge the guests a ticket fee. The government just happens to get a kickback - oh, excuse me, tax - on that revenue. ;-)
  • Re:The difference? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RingDev (879105) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:34PM (#15436447) Homepage Journal
    This isn't about price per volume. The NN legislation (SFAIK) does not limit a provider's ability to charge what ever they like for volume. The legislation is designed to prevent the re-ordering of packets based on a tiered service plan.

    For example, I get 75gigs of transfer on my site for $15/month. For every 5gig block above that I have to cough up another $5. So if I transfer 4 gigs, it's $15. 60 gigs, still $15. 100 gigs, $40. 500 gigs, $440.

    For example, the NN legislation would prevent my provider from saying that in addition to my bandwidth costs I would have to pay $25/month for a 'QoS' guarantee or face 10% more timeouts for my customers and 150% page load times.

    -Rick
  • by NetSettler (460623) <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:35PM (#15436454) Homepage Journal

    I've got to say, I have trouble with charging content providers even once, so I completely agree with this criticism of the proposed "revenue enhancing" technologys for the megacorps.

    I used to post commentary to Salon's TableTalk [salon.com] until they changed their revenue policy to charge people who posted stuff for the right to post. People who posted stuff? They're a magazine. It seems absurd to charge writers but not subscribers. So I left. Obviously it didn't bring the empire down, but my point was to say "look, I'm not going to pay two ways: one by providing content and another by providing money to have that content delivered". People come to the site to read posts, and they charge advertisers for that. Getting readers is enough payment for me.

    Similarly here, I think it's amazing that if you have a web site that is full of content, the internet has no mechanism to make sure you are economically rewarded. The promise of micropayments for having put up very elaborate sites full of information was never carried through because the big portal sites realized they could just take all that money for themselves--why pass it through? No one cares that it's my or your commentary that people are getting out of their browser. They just thank AOL or MSN or Google for finding it for them. And we who provide the myriad little details, blogs, maps, lists, and other things that make up the real fabric of the internet are not only not rewarded but are charged.

    So when you talk about double-charging for that privilege, not single-charging, at some point I have to say everyone should go read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged [wikipedia.org], in which something very similar occurs, and what amount to "content providers" eventually say "enough is enough". Ayn Rand is controversial for her overall broad philosophy of Objectivism, which lots of people don't buy into wholesale. But I'm not advancing Objectivism here. I'm just saying the basic premise of the book, that sometimes enough is enough, is worth considering. The book is an interesting read regardless of your position on her larger scale philosophies.

    And I'm all for creating reasonable fees on the Internet. I just don't think authors and other content providers should be charged for doing so. That's the very definition of not reasonable. Sort of like having kids charge their parents for raising them. Or charging teachers for the privilege of teaching. If no one reads the content someone provides, the cost of that content approaches zero since it's just a few bytes on an unused disk. If lots of people read them, then by definition the content contributes a lot to the world, and the world should contribute by each consumer chipping in, not by each consumer contributing to the content provider's eventual bankruptcy (or in less severe cases just negatively contributing to their financial success).

    Also, I like Jesse Ventura's "government should do for people what they cannot do for themselves". The big portal companies are already capable of a great many sins; the mere presence of money enables that. What the law needs to protect are the individual content providers, who are not capable of protecting themselves because often they are denied (or made to work unreasonably hard for) any revenue stream from their efforts. If there's a need for a law, it's to protect the little guy, not to enable the big one.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:36PM (#15436458)

    Only the government can "censor" anyone. ISPs routinely "censor" content, and have no restrictions on doing so.

    You're mistaken. The government and agents acting on their behalf can censor. ISPs are not just private companies. They are private companies subsidized by taxpayer dollars, granted special immunity for breaking certain laws, and who are granted monopolies in geographical regions enforced by the government using the police.

    In most localities only one phone and one cable company are granted the right to run lines to your house through the public right of ways upon which the telephone poles and underground cables are placed. The police stop anyone else from doing so, thus limiting you to only one or two possible ISPs. Thus the government is censoring you if those companies do, by denying you the option of going with another provider supplied by the free market.

    ISPs are granted special privileges for acting as impartial carriers of data. They are not prosecuted, despite the fact that they violate copyright law, transfer child pornography, publish libel, publish trade secrets, publish threats, etc. This is because they just impartially move data for the good of the country (acting as agents of the government) and are thus not responsible for what data they move. Now, however, they want to take responsibility for what data they are moving in order to extort money from those who are more reliant upon them. I think they should be allowed to do so, just as soon as anyone can string last mile wire and as soon as they lose their common carrier immunities.

    The government employing a private company, granted special privileges, and whose competition is arrested by the police is not a legal way for the government to do an end-run around the constitution. ISPs are clearly acting as government agencies and as such are subject to constitutional limitations.

  • Re:Two Questions (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lysander Luddite (64349) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:38PM (#15436490)
    I believe that if you see the Internet as a public space that all have equal access to, your questions are answered.

    In a public space one isn't charged to state an opinion. Other visitors to that space aren't obliged to listen to that opinion, yet the economic and political freedom to speak one's mind exists.

    Removing Net Neutrality really amounts to privatizing the Internet. Just as one can be chased out of a private space like a shopping mall because the ownership doesn't want one there, so can network owners discriminate against those it chooses.

    Admittedly, this is simplistic, but the Internet transcends physical space while at the same time has characterisitics of it.
  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:40PM (#15436513) Homepage
    I am gung-ho about net neutrality, but how is what you just said any different than how things work now? I host my blog off of my 384Kbps-upload DSL. If my blog all of a sudden gets 4000 visitors per day, and I want all of them to be able to see it, I'll currently have to pay more to move it to a datacenter or get a better Internet connection, correct?

    Read the article. The proposal is that the big ISPs will have two tiers/channels/whatever, one that is high speed and only available to paying customers, and the other for everybody else. Note that the paying customers not only pay for their hosting and bandwidth, but also pay the ISP serving the broadband/cable/cell connection to the end user for the right to have their content served over the faster channel.

    Presumably the idea of getting 'too popular' is that the ISPs would not only have the option of limiting bandwidth in the last mile to each individual subscriber, but also ISPs may have limited bandwidth across the whole network allocated e.g. by IP block, effectively slowing access to that server down as it becomes more popular, which would obviously cause a drop in popularity/revenue for the online business providing content. At the moment the bottleneck would be with their own hosting, for which they would have to pay for more transfer (GB/month) and a faster pipe (GB/sec). If these proposals are successful they may also have to pay one or more ISPs to be put on the faster pipe through their network and at the subscriber end so that the end users can access the service at an acceptable speed.

    The nasty side of this is that, again presumably, the ISPs would allocate a reasonable bandwidth to non-fasttrack traffic so that end users don't notice a slowdown in less popular, niche websites, otherwise customers would complain that 'the whole internet is slow'. The big players would naturally pay up immediately, so it's only the middle group who are too popular for their own good who would be stuck.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:43PM (#15436534)
    The difference is that most Chinese citizens realize they have limited freedoms. Most Americans, on the other hand, don't understand that yet. They'll spout on and on about their supposed freedom and liberty, while at the same time actively watching it be slowly eroded. Sometimes they're even happy to see it go, especially when told it'll bring them "national security".

  • Re:Higher prices? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tinkerghost (944862) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:50PM (#15436587) Homepage
    Um, buy a DVD lately. How about watch Comcast's on-demand - the 'free offerings' you pay for as part of your digital package ... yeah they added commercials to the start of them and I don't recall the price of either coming down.
    By the way, not once have I seen anything from a telco on 2 Tier internet where they are garaunteeing anything but best effort even if you pay. So technically, they can flag you high QoS priority at the peerpoint and ignore you after that. You pay them more, they give you a nifty flag on your packets that nobody sees.
  • Re:Two Questions (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Haeleth (414428) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @12:59PM (#15436687) Journal
    1. From a "free speech" point of view, how is this any different than than your local newspaper's editorial policy? Some newspapers just won't print some kinds of content, even if the author is willing to pay for the service.

    Does your local newspaper prevent you from subscribing to a different newspaper? No? Then that's the difference: it's trivial to switch newspapers, but it's very difficult to switch ISPs, particularly if you live in one of the many parts of the world where there is practically no competition.

    2. Does this form of content limitation take away any of the rights you had before the dawn of email?

    Of course not. Nor would banning cars take away any of the rights you had before the invention of the automobile, but if the government introduced a bill to ban cars, would you sit back and tell everyone to suck it up because "back in the day, we drove around in horse-drawn carriages"? Somehow I doubt it.

    The mere fact that a technology only became ubiquitous recently does not automatically mean that people have no right to expect to be able to rely on it.
  • Re:The difference? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jruesch (926008) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:07PM (#15436773)
    Freedom of speech is freedom from the government controlling what is said. It is NOT freedom from all entities to control what is said in all situations. In fact a big part of freedom of speech is the freedom to do just that. A newspaper nor anyone else can not be forced to transmit speech by another. There is a big difference between China's government controlling speech and a US company choosing to to transmit speech by another.
    That being said, it is important for the internet to include access to all sites. Companies providing access should not make access content dependent except under extreem circumstances (Phishing, child porn, etc.) Internet providers should be required to provide access to all sites while individual sites should have the right to restrict speech as they see fit.
  • by 'nother poster (700681) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:11PM (#15436834)
    In other words, let's say I send a phone call through Skype's servers. I'm not paying any more to my telco or cableco for them to do this. I'm just paying Skype and Skype is paying their own ISP, not my local ISP, even though my local ISP is carrying all the extra traffic load. This is especially galling for the Telco because this used to be revenue at $ 0.05 a minute and now it's not giving them one thin dime, even though they are providing the bandwidth for it to happen!

    You ARE paying your ISP for the bandwidth already. That's that monthly "unlimited access" fee you pay to your ISP. Skype is paying their ISP, and the person on the other end is paying their ISP, if it's an IP to IP call. Everyone is already being paid for moving IP packets. If you are moving too many packets over your ISP, they should charge you, not Skype. Your ISP knows you want to use Skype, but will leave and go to another ISP if they raise your rates, so they extort money from Skype to be allowed to provide you a service you are already paying your ISP for, moving IP packets from your address to another and vice versa.
  • by oddRaisin (139439) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:20PM (#15436924)
    "Net Neutrality" is an attempt by the Telcos to shift their problem to the backs of content providers and end users, leaving nothing but profit for them.

    Let's take an example. Verizon and Google seem to be popular. Let's say Google is hosted with AT&T. So now we have Verizon's customers using their bandwidth to access Google on AT&T's network, and not getting any money for it. This in and of itself is false. The customers pay for the access, and if they didn't use it for Google then they would use it elsewhere. Since AT&T is the funnel for the traffic from all other ISPs, they charge Google a large amount. It seems like everyone got their money -- AT&T from Google and Verizon from its customers.

    If there were an imbalance it would be up to the ISPs to negotiate between themselves. The content providers pay their bandwidth fees to provide the content and the users pay their fees to get access to everything any content provider (from blogs to Amazon) wish to offer.

    I had trouble coming up with an imbalance in this equation, but let's say that somehow the user's bandwidth usage to access Google's content drives Verizon's finances into the red, while AT&T is making a mint. In this case I would say that Verizon needs to negotiate some sort of equalization payment from AT&T that would sound like Verizon to AT&T: "Pay me some relief for all this traffic or I will block access to your network from mine".

    The advantage here is that the ISP's problem remains their problem, and doesn't move to any scapegoat(s). There is no tiered network, since the costs would be balanced on a monthly/quaterly/yearly/what-have-you basis.
  • by Skreems (598317) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:22PM (#15436943) Homepage
    If there is a two-tier Internet, where video and telephony applications are on the top tier and web sites, email and most other services are on the bottom, it really doesn't seem unfair to me. In fact, it might vastly improve the quality of the top-tier applications to the point where we would be a great deal happier with them than we are now. Surely this is not so bad?

    It's unfair because I already paid for a certain quality of service on my end, and for all the bandwidth I use. If the telcos are having problems filling their end of the contract, they should raise prices to meet their actual costs, not try to extort money from the people on the other end of the connection. When I signed up for an account, I did so with the assumption that I was paying more than enough to cover the bandwidth they promised me, and that I would receive any and all data I chose to request at equal speed (at least as far as they can control). They are now trying to break that contract by delivering data that I request at less bandwidth than I am paying them for, unless the guy on the other end pays protection money.
  • Re:Higher prices? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bomb_number_20 (168641) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @01:24PM (#15436968)
    The whole thing is really a tradeoff - lower prices for targeted, sponsored content. It's like TV - you can pay for commercial-free content, or be cheap about it and be forced to watch commercials.

    You're still getting gouged.

    Public memory is short. You may not remember this, but when cable TV was first introduced, the whole idea was that you were essentially paying for the privilege of not watching commercials. After all, cable was supported by you, the viewer, and not advertisers. They've since introduced premium channels. Now you pay to watch commercials on cable and pay for premium channels. Advertising is starting to slip in there as well.

    I see this as no different than the introduction of cable. Eventually, they will split it into an n-tier internet, with the highest level being the web equivalent of a premium channel. When they want to extort more money they will just add another tier.

    pig fuckers.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:42PM (#15437756)
    I'm going to reasonably assume that phone calls are likely to take around 1mb a minute

    You would "reasonably" assume wrong.

    First of all, data rates (over time) are measured in bps. That's bits per second. Not Bpm (bytes per minute). 1MB/minute = 1(MB)x8(bits-per-byte)/60(sec-per-min), or 0.13Mbps, which is 136.53kbps.

    A phone call takes 64kbps. Period. There are 24 circuits in a 1.5Mbps T1. Each of those circuits is a standard phone line. Each of them is 64kbps in each direction (full duplex). Per minute, that comes out to 64(kbps)x60(seconds)/8(byte = 8 bits), or 480kBpm, which is 0.47MB/min.

    And I hate to rain on your sympathy parade, but the fact is that these telcos have already sold their service as "unlimited". If they want to change their services, they should do so. It's their prerogative. But if they change their price/service ratio, people will complain, or even *gasp* take their business elsewhere. And that's a loss of control on the part of these companies. They lose control of marketshare, money, and even the market in general. So instead they'll lobby the government to force us to pay them for substandard service. If they pull that crap with me, I'll drop them, laws or not. And I'm not alone in this. When my service begins to cost me more and give me less, I'll join an ever-growing crowd that either finds an alternative or gives up on the telcos entirely. I don't think they realize just how big the gun pointed at their foot is, or how touchy the hair trigger is. Then there's the whole "fraud" aspect of them selling "unlimited*" service...

    If we get quality audio or video that sounds good and doesn't skip, I think we'll happily pay the extra costs of the two-tier Internet.

    No, "we" won't. "We" aren't all consumerist junkies like yourself. "We" are frequently the ones creating new sites, new ideas, new uses for technology. "We" make money from the Internet. "We" don't like the prospect of paying extra just because some greedy telco CEO has an itch for a new gold-plated Rolls Royce.

    How this would affect anyone's free speech rights baffles me. As long as it's written speech, as on the overwhelming majority of blogs, better QOS is not going to be required.

    QOS goes both ways. Push something down to make room for something else. Push text data down to make room for audio. Push audio down to make room for video. Push dissenting opinion text data down to make room for... line noise. QOS scheduling is blind, but unlike justice, it's also stupid. It's blind in that it will apply anybody's traffic shaping, regardless of their views. It's stupid because if you tell it to favor line noise or an unused line over a heavily-used line carrying traffic you don't like, it will. Hence the fears of suppression of speech.
  • by Panaflex (13191) <convivialdingo AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @02:59PM (#15437928)
    What happens then is that the "rest of the world" creates their own, free akamai clone and essentially "works around the problem."

    Technically, my own POV is that it would be impossible to manage a real tiered internet. The memory required on the routers would be a death-blow.

    My point is that this isn't about little guys (or even big companies like the ones I've worked at).

    This is about telephone and TV. This is about killing the phoenix and wearing the feathers.

    Pan
  • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:11PM (#15438056)
    Do you realize how ridiculously complicated such a system would be to maintain from a network engineering point of view? That alone would be a stumbling block any "evil" ISP would have to overcome before they even though about charging individual web sites separate "protection" fees for their traffic to get priority. Don't get me wrong, I am pro-network-neutrality, but I can't see them ever rolling out a two-tiered internet in the first place.
  • by SillyNickName4me (760022) <dotslash@bartsplace.net> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:14PM (#15438082) Homepage
    Isn't that the case right now? Bandwidth isn't free. If your site gets too popular, you have to pay more.

    Yes, I have to get a bigger pipe and so pay more to my hosting provider.

    Now a few questions..

    - How many ISPs are there on this planet?
    - Which of them service one or more of your customers?

    And consequentely:

    - How many ISPs do you have to pay for getting 'fast' service?

    I'll leave it to your own interlect to figure out why exactly this idea is unworkable for any medium/small company, regardless of what the exact fees are.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @03:18PM (#15438118)
    The idea here is that our average bandwidth use has changed dramatically, and so the original definition of "unlimited bandwidth" may not be sustainable anymore.
    Then it's simple: the ISPs will have to raise their rates for their own customers, or stop offering "unlimited bandwidth" plans. That's how the law of supply and demand works. ISPs are not allowed to commit extortion to prop up their business model!
    Maybe it's not bad for the money to go from Skype instead of us, since if it goes from Skype, only Skype's users will be paying for it. If we charged more for everyone, including people (like me) who don't use Skype, then that's not fair either.
    You use X megabytes of bandwidth per month, someone else uses Y megabytes of bandwidth per month. If the ISPs just wanted to charge more for more bandwidth used, they could just charge you $X and the other person $Y. But they don't. They want to charge $(X + N) because of the particular kind of bytes you transferred (i.e., making a distinction between HTTP bytes from Google and HTTP bytes from MSN). You'd still be charged $X but Google would be charged $N for no good reason. Now, let's say there's someone else who also used X megabytes of bandwidth, but used the ISP's "approved" vendor. They'd be charged the same $X, but the "approved" vendor would be charged $0. Since business have to pass the costs on to the users, you're effectively paying $(X + N) while the other person (who consumes the same amount as service) is only paying $X. This gives the "approved" vendor an unfair advantage.

    Here's a concrete example: say that today Skype can afford to charge $10/month for VOIP, and Bellsouth can only afford to charge $15/month to provide their own VOIP service. You are paying $40/month for Bellsouth's "unlimited" DSL, and want to get VOIP service. You sign up for Skype, so now you're paying $50/month.

    Well, now the net neutrality bill fails, and Bellsouth starts charging Skype a fee to connect to you at a reasonable rate. Say, for example, it's $5/month/user. Since businesses are never perfectly efficient (e.g. Skype has to hire an extra employee to manage the Bellsouth extortion fee), Skype is forced to raise its rate by $7/month. Suddenly, Bellsouth's own VOIP is $2 cheaper, and it's because it happens to have a monopoly over the regulated infrastructure that is the network.

    Now, is this fair? Should Bellsouth be allowed to do it? I say, Hell no! And that's why we need network neutrality.

    Now, as for Free Speech: if ISPs are allowed to do this at all, there's no limit on the criteria used to implement it. It doesn't matter that text-based sites use (relatively) negligable bandwidth; a pro-Republican ISP could still (for example) throttle Democratic websites down to 2400 bits per second. Also, as time goes on media like sound and video will be used more and more on the Internet for all things, including political speech. Even now, how many videos on YouTube or Google Video do you think are political? What if the next JibJab election video is live-action, instead of a Flash animation?

    And that's not even mentioning the fact that the paperwork for all this protection money will be a nightmare for web businesses to manage because they'll effectively have to bribe every ISP on the planet, or the fact that as technology progresses and bandwidth increases this will become a non-issue anyway (in the same way that CPU speed is a non-issue nowadays for most casual users -- I'm aware that there will always be some groups that need all the bandwidth available, no matter how much there is. No "640K ought to be enough for everyone" posts, please).
  • by Moofie (22272) <lee@@@ringofsaturn...com> on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @04:33PM (#15438765) Homepage
    Thank you, Marie Antoinette!
  • by ultranova (717540) on Wednesday May 31, 2006 @06:29PM (#15439794)

    The idea here is that our average bandwidth use has changed dramatically, and so the original definition of "unlimited bandwidth" may not be sustainable anymore.

    Then perhaps the ISPs should not be offering it anymore.

    Do you know how an all-you-can-eat-buffet works, from the business point of view ? It works because, on average, a customer pays the restaurant owner more than it cost the owner to make that meal. However, sometimes a large (or just gluttonous) person or even a group of such persons comes, sits down and starts eating. They eat and eat and eat, and end up costing way more than they paid. Can the owner then, after they have eaten, say: "By the way, by "all you can eat" I really meant only a limited amount, and since you ate more, you'll have to eat more" ?

    No, of course he can't. He sold unlimited meal, he can't redefine that words meaning afterwards. If those persons come eating often, then the owner will simply have to switch to stop offering an unlimited meal, or perhaps increase his rates to keep making money.

    Why on Earth would the ISPs be allowed to lie on their offers either ?

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