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U.S. House Rejects Net Neutrality 598

Posted by Zonk
from the tiered-internet-here-we-come dept.
tygerstripes writes "A recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives has led to a rejection of the principle of Net Neutrality from the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act (Cope Act), in spite of massive lobbying from prominent businesses. According to the BBC, the bill '...aims to make it easier for telecoms firms to offer video services around America by replacing 30,000 local franchise boards with a national system overseen by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'. However, according to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, 'telecommunications and cable companies will be able to create toll lanes on the information superhighway... This strikes at the heart of the free and equal nature of the internet.'"
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U.S. House Rejects Net Neutrality

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  • How Peculiar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:57AM (#15501385) Journal
    When I opened up this Slashdot article in Internet Explorer, the headline read "U.S. House Rejects Net Neutrality" but when I opened it up in Firefox it read "Wealthy Old White Men Reject Yet Another Form Of Equality."

    In it's raw form, the internet is a communications device. You section it off--and you're going to piss people off. The more people you piss off, the more hackers you'll spawn. I for one hope that these "toll" lanes are violated right off the bat by the best and brightest of the Ukraine & Russia.
    • Re:How Peculiar (Score:4, Interesting)

      by l2718 (514756) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:09AM (#15501458)

      Unfortunately, this won't work that easily -- perhaps that's why the ISPs want to charge the service providers and not the end-users: it's easy to lie about the protocol/content of the packet, but it's very hard to lie about the source and destination address.

      Indeed, people are going to be pissed off -- which is why I expect some ISPs to stay away from packet discrimination. People who care about it will simply flock there. The market is a better solution than hackers.

      • Not a solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by why-is-it (318134) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:26AM (#15501579) Homepage Journal
        Indeed, people are going to be pissed off -- which is why I expect some ISPs to stay away from packet discrimination.

        How would that make any difference? At some point, those packets are likely to ride over one of the big telco's backbones. At that point it will be subject to QOS.

        Using the smaller ISP does not avoid the issue...

        • Re:Not a solution (Score:5, Insightful)

          by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdotNO@SPAMnexusuk.org> on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:39AM (#15501665) Homepage
          At that point it will be subject to QOS.

          I think it's important to differentiate between protocol based prioritisation and toll based prioritisation.

          The ISP I use does traffic prioritisation based on protocol. This is a Good Thing and should be encouraged - it means that RTP traffic, for example, gets higher priority than BitTorrent. This is great since RTP gets pretty unusable more than a few hundred milliseconds of latency jitter, but BitTorrent won't care. (Yes, I'm aware that many people complain that they want to be able to shift enough BitTorrent traffic over their 15ukp DSL connection to destroy the usability of everyone else's connections).

          On the other hand, I'm paying for the internet connection so prioritising traffic based on whether the remote party are paying protection money to my ISP is a very Bad Thing - I already paid for the connection, the remote party already paid for theirs, why the hell should my ISP be demanding more cash from them and penalising me if they don't pay?

          Of course, protocol based QoS is fraught with problems because you can't trust the end user to set the ToS flags correctly so you have to identify the protocol by fingerprinting instead. It's not an easy problem to solve, but it's very worthwhile.
          • Re:Not a solution (Score:3, Informative)

            by why-is-it (318134)

            I think it's important to differentiate between protocol based prioritisation and toll based prioritisation.

            Do you think that backbone routers will make that distinction?

            Routers can do QOS based on protocol and source/destination IP address. It's just another set of statements in the config IIRC. My guess is that the telcos will implement MPLS, so the relevant provider can slap their own QOS labels on the packets when it reaches their network, regardless of whether the packet had a QOS bit set in the firs

            • Re:Not a solution (Score:3, Interesting)

              by FireFury03 (653718)
              Do you think that backbone routers will make that distinction?

              That's not what I meant - I meant when talking about QoS traffic shaping it's important to make a distinction between the types - protocol classification is good, toll classification is bad - just telling everyone that QoS is a bad thing and should be banned is a terrible idea because ISPs who are *improving* the service by using protocol classification will be unfairly labelled as evil.
          • Re:Not a solution (Score:5, Interesting)

            by dbitch (553938) on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:42AM (#15502121)
            But, and here's the question I've been struggling with over the last few days, what happens when the connection is encrypted? HTTPS or SSH or SSL or TLS? What can you route on? Source and dest IP only, I would think. Maybe that will be the lowest on the pole - "if your connection is encrypted, it gets the lowest service, since we can't tell what is going over that connection." Seems that's a good way to keep Joe Sixpack from using encryption - "hey, my stuff is running slowly. Guess I won't use that encryption stuff." Not that he uses it anyway. Maybe that's the next step in the bill - "in order to enforce this bill, we must require that all communications be unencrypted." Kind of a scary thought, no?
            • Re:Not a solution (Score:4, Informative)

              by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdotNO@SPAMnexusuk.org> on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:52AM (#15502779) Homepage
              But, and here's the question I've been struggling with over the last few days, what happens when the connection is encrypted? HTTPS or SSH or SSL or TLS? What can you route on? Source and dest IP only, I would think. Maybe that will be the lowest on the pole - "if your connection is encrypted, it gets the lowest service, since we can't tell what is going over that connection."

              This is indeed one of the problems of protocol fingerprinting - about the only thing you can tell is that it's an SSL session, or a TLS session, etc. Although you can make a guess that an SSL session on port 443/tcp is probably HTTPS that doesn't stop someone doing some other SSL based protocol on that port.

              SSH is a little easier - if it's an interactive session then the packet sizes will be reasonably small. If the packet sizes are large then it's probably SCP or some other high-bandwidth protocol and should probably be considered a bulk transfer anyway.

              Things get worse with protocols like ESP - you get no access to things like port numbers and very limited access to protocol attributes.

              Encryption and obfuscation is a big problem - some people think that it's a good idea to work around their ISP's traffic shaping by encrypting or obfuscating traffic. These people do not understand the economies of running a shared network and make things bad for everyone (themselves included). It's not possible to provide uncontended connectivity to each end user at a sensible price. As soon as you start contending for the bandwidth you have to do some prioritisation to prevent high bandiwdth protocols ruining the quality of service for everyone else. People who work around the ISP's traffic shaping end up causing the ISP to either buy more upstream bandwidth (which they have to pass on as a cost to their customers) or invest in more rigorous fingerprinting systems, whcih again result in higher charges.

              Maybe that's the next step in the bill - "in order to enforce this bill, we must require that all communications be unencrypted." Kind of a scary thought, no?

              I think that's very unlikely - it would mean the death of internet banking, shopping, etc. There's no way the banks would accept liability for confidential data being sent unencrypted.
              • Re:Not a solution (Score:4, Insightful)

                by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday June 09, 2006 @12:29PM (#15503128) Journal
                I think that's very unlikely - it would mean the death of internet banking, shopping, etc. There's no way the banks would accept liability for confidential data being sent unencrypted.
                What you'll actually see is encrypted communications either being treated as the lowest of the low priority or entirely banned unless you are paying the prohibitive rate for the encryption service. The public, after all, have no need of encryption amongst themselves! Only businesses will be able to pay the fees to provide these connections.

                The first principle is simple - where you have power over someone, such as providing them a needed product, then you squeeze them for every penny they have. The second principle is equally straigtforward - where possible, create barriers to entry to prevent people doing things for themselves.
              • Re:Not a solution (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Wellspring (111524)

                Maybe that's the next step in the bill - "in order to enforce this bill, we must require that all communications be unencrypted." Kind of a scary thought, no?

                I think that's very unlikely - it would mean the death of internet banking, shopping, etc. There's no way the banks would accept liability for confidential data being sent unencrypted.

                There's another possibility. You could limit the use of public networks to a manageable number of allowed applications, then set up tiered pricing and QoS rules for each

          • Re:Not a solution (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward
            The reason why they want tiers is this:

            You (consumers) pay for your bandwidth. The ISP sells bandwidth but it oversells it because they know that not everyone will be online downloading a 1.7 Gig file at the same time. So it's economical for them to offer low low prices on the bandwidth they sell to us (consumers).

            Now that people are doing bandwidth hogging things like downloading movies from big commercial websites, and now that the Last mile ISP's want to bring you bandwidth hogging stuff like IPTV, the
          • Re:Not a solution (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kintin (840632)

            On the other hand, I'm paying for the internet connection so prioritising traffic based on whether the remote party are paying protection money to my ISP is a very Bad Thing - I already paid for the connection, the remote party already paid for theirs, why the hell should my ISP be demanding more cash from them and penalising me if they don't pay?

            This is basically it. I pay $50/mo. for 3M/800K and I expect full pipe. Of course, in my ToS agreement, it's explained that they cannot guarantee that servic

        • Re:Not a solution (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BigCheese (47608)
          I was reading the other day that QoS doesn't work all that well. It's easier and cheaper to make the pipes bigger on the long hauls. I'd cite the source but I can't seem to find it.

          Extensive use of QoS will require much more powerful routers with more complex routing software. That's a good recipe for trouble. If QoS generates enough problems they will lose money on the whole deal.
      • Re:How Peculiar (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bigpat (158134) on Friday June 09, 2006 @11:31AM (#15502545)
        The market is a better solution than hackers.

        I agree, but the big telecoms are aiming to destroy the free market with quality of service and end to end discrimination.

        Do you not get it? There are but a handful of long haul carriers left and they are all on board with triple billing their customers for content. These companies at one time or another owe their ability to exist from the power of government to seize people's property and legally maintain their cables on public rights of way, yet they want to have final say over ever packet that goes over their network without considering the benefit of the public. The public has the right and obligation to regulate public rights of way and this is all that this was.

        Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, seek to serepticiously undermine competition at every step along the way and my fellow libertarians seem caught up in the idea that it is somehow still a free market even when the marketplace itself is by invitation only.

        And I said they seek to triple bill customers... it could be far worse, with every telco along the way seeking further kickbacks along the way to promptly deliver each packet. This is as if UPS, Fedex, Airborne express all suddenly started to demand greater payments along the route for prompt delivery, not just by weight, but based on the source and destination of the packet. If you live in a good neighborhood you get charged more, if they think your company can afford it, you get charged more. And everyone else gets purposefully shitty service.

        Welcome to the free market, as long as you don't define "free" and "market" in old speak.

    • by dr_dank (472072)
      When I opened up this Slashdot article in Internet Explorer, the headline read "U.S. House Rejects Net Neutrality" but when I opened it up in Firefox it read "Wealthy Old White Men Reject Yet Another Form Of Equality."

      Where did you find the euphemism killer Firefox extension? Does it also change bathroom tissue into toilet paper?
    • I am shocked... SHOCKED that you'd actually expect elected representatives to actually represent their constiuents.
      How silly of you.

      • C-SPAN has an interactive map that shows you how your reps voted on this issue. The first vote [capwiz.com] was to send the bill back to committee to reconsider the net neutrality issues. A vote of "yes" means that your rep was concerned about net neutrality. It failed horribly, mainly along party lines (surprised?)

        The second vote [capwiz.com] was whether to pass the bill as-is, which passed by a 3 to 1 margin. A vote of "yes" means that your rep didn't think net neutrality was all that important. However, it's not quite as damning
    • Re:How Peculiar (Score:3, Informative)

      by stinerman (812158)
      Per the bill (in its current form), there is still a $500,000 fine for anyone who goes against the FCC's broadband policy statement [publicknowledge.org]. Basically you'll have to complain if you think your ISP isn't living up to that statement, and the FCC will investigate. Who knows how effective this will be.

      Also, do remember that the Senate has to consider this. Perhaps they could slip neutrality legislation into the bill. Call your senators!
  • I read the article and I saw a picture of a movie star. Pretty random even though the blurb said she backed net netrality.
  • by rjnagle (122374) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:58AM (#15501393) Homepage
    I realize that "net neutrality" is conventional wisdom among geeks, but I remain very skeptical. To summarize:

    1)bandwidth is already plentiful; we're talking about hypothetical harms here. (For the record, I actually downgraded my broadband a few months ago, with absolutely no complaints).

    2)companies already pay for ISP's and webhosting; tiered service is not anything new. Anyway, webhosting costs have been decreasing in price. I find it highly unlikely that this downward trend won't continue across the board.

    3)The thing I find strange is that if anything, tiered pricing, by passing on costs to distributors, could ultimately benefit consumers by lowering subscription costs. Tiered pricing could increase flexibility. I really am not sure. But that should be for private industry to decide. Even if legislators were relatively well-informed and up-to-date, the pace of technology change tends to outstrip that of legislative oversight; this legislation will probably be obsolete on the day it is passed.

    4)So what if SBC decides to implement a tiered system of bandwidth! Consumers just stop renewing their contracts if they hate it enough. That's much better than making courts and legislators do a lot of hairsplitting about what legislative intent was/should be.

    5)I worry less about tiered service than I do about ISPs blocking p2p traffic. Then again, I see no need to enact legislation merely to keep certain ports open.

    6)as an independent content producer (and soon a distributor), I want the Net environment to be as unregulated as possible (even from laws that purport to ensure acess). If some ISPs are going to charge for tiered service, either they better offer substantial benefits to customers or people will abandon them in droves.

    7)what concerns me more is restrictive Terms of Service and EULAs. If ISPs offer twice the bandwidth for half the cost, that is great. But if the saving comes with all sorts of extra provisions on TOS, then the battle has been lost.

    8)There is a certain arrogance to the notion that consumers can't be trusted to act in their self-interest but require government's "help" to be protected.

    9)I think the harm being addressed here is that consumers and businesses need more alternatives for obtaining net access. They shouldn't be in a market where they only have one ISP to choose from. To use myself as an example, the only way I can obtain DSL access in my apartment complex is by getting SBC phone service first. SBC could double the prices of a landline, and I'd have no choice but to swallow it. Then again, I could easily switch to a wireless phone carrier that includes wireless Net service. Or if worse comes to worse, I could obtain satellite. But government regulation would introduce an element of uncertainty and legal wrangling that could deter the offering of new services. For the record, I had a legal dispute with SBC, so I ended up going with a local company for DSL (although I still had to pay for a landline). It's still possible even in the day of semi-monopolies to withhold support from the incumbent ISP.
    • )bandwidth is already plentiful; we're talking about hypothetical harms here.

      If they can up-throttle comapnies that pay them, what's to stop them from down-throttling traffic from everyone who doesn't?

      -Eric

      • If they can up-throttle comapnies that pay them, what's to stop them from down-throttling traffic from everyone who doesn't?

        First of all, we're talking mostly about down-throttling: letting some packets go first and holding the others back. Secondly, there's nothing to stop them except that their paying customers will be pissed if they get slow service. Now the ISPs will try to say it's the website's fault: "MSN is our global partner, while Google declined our king offer to join the family, so of cour

        • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:23AM (#15501550)
          I think people will quickly wise up and switch ISPs if that happens.

          Switch ISPs to who!? As the bill notes, most US citizens, if they can get broadband at all, are limited to one or two choices... either the local cable monopoly or the local telephone monopoly. We already know AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast were heavily in favor of a tiered Internet, so if your telephone is provided by AT&T and Verizon and your cable by Comcast you are shit out of luck. Welcome your new broadband overlords and prepare to only browse their Premium Content Providers at more than 20KB/sec. If you're lucky enough to have Covad in your CO then you have some more choices for now like Speakeasy, but it's not clear whether they will be able to continue to resell those last mile circuits anymore. Also, say goodbye to Vonage as well. I was debating whether to get a traditional telephone line from AT&T when I move or switch to VOIP with Vonage, but this decision cements my choice back to the traditional POTS line. Vonage will be pushed out of business within 2 years by QoS issues.

        • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:41AM (#15501692)
          there's nothing to stop them except that their paying customers will be pissed if they get slow service

          Sadly, most people probably wouldn't even notice. I know for a fact that some major companies are already doing some downthrottling, and apparently not enough people are noticing to even call them on it.

          I recently had an experience myself where I canceled my unlimited long-distance service with Bellsouth and the same day they downthrottled my 3 Mbps account to 1.5 Mbps speed (probably a measure aimed at those dumping them for VoIP service, to make VoIP look bad). Being a geek, I noticed right away and called them on it. They explained that they must have "made a mistake" (yeah, a "mistake" that just happened to have occurred on the exact same day I cancelled my long-distance plan with them) and returned me to 3 Mbps with curious ease.

          Now, if a big company like Bellsouth has the balls to do something so brazen, it must mean that they KNOW that most of their customers will never notice. And that was MUCH more obvious than site-specific down-throttling.

          -Eric

    • by DigDuality (918867) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:08AM (#15501451)
      I just love the attitude here who think this is a prime example of "small government" and pro-business and are cheering on this loss. The skepticism of government, this isn't a "government idea". This started from the ground up. This hurts every industry online. Every online content provider, every online retailer, every financial institution with online services, every insurance company running online apps for quoting (business's run off these websites, most insurance companies did away with software applications), every open source project that barely has the funds to function anyway, every independent blogger, even the big media..from fox to the bbc, every activist group is effected by this..from the KKK to the NRA to the Green Party to the Socialist Party, from PETA to the Christian Coaltion, from GLAAD and the Rainbow Coalition, the NAACP, the ACLU, the Libertarian Party, every charity organization that has set up online donations, every file trading service, every university, every public and private school in the US, every government department offering interactivity via the internet, every online application from Google spreadsheet, to Windows One Care, from Flickr to You Tube, this is a loss to EVERYONE. Every individual, every corporation. Every political group, every religious group that reaches out online, this is the begining of the end for individuals to have voice through blogs and websites. How one cannot see that is beyond me.
    • by vishbar (862440) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:08AM (#15501452)
      4)So what if SBC decides to implement a tiered system of bandwidth! Consumers just stop renewing their contracts if they hate it enough. That's much better than making courts and legislators do a lot of hairsplitting about what legislative intent was/should be.

      The Internet has reached the point where it is, essentially, as much of a necessity of modern Western society as the telephone. Therefore, if EVERY telco implements a tiered bandwidth system, there won't be anyone to turn to after they cancel the contract...leaving the consumer high-and-dry without an ISP.

      I wouldn't have any problems with a tiered bandwidth system if I didn't think it would be abused by the telecom corporations. However, the purpose of a business is to make money--no more, no less. I don't think they can be trusted to maintain a free and open communications medium such as the 'Net.

    • Or as with most things capatilist the customer will be offered a limited choice of low quality products.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think you left out one big point. Net Neutrality is not about stopping ISP for charging different amount for different levels of bandwidth. It is about stopping the ISP from charging content providers for different kinds of content.

      It would be as if the phone company charged you one rate for calls where you discussed your family and a different rate if you discussed computers.

      In general it is the difference between telephones (where you pay to be connected to someone else) and cable (where you pay for a
    • by Professor_UNIX (867045) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:14AM (#15501495)
      2)companies already pay for ISP's [Buy Snacky Smores. Snacky Smores are the most nutritious and delicious smore supplement available on the market today. Snacky Smores! This inline advertisement presented to you by AT&T Yahoo DSL] and webhosting; tiered service is not anything new. Anyway, webhosting costs have been decreasing in price. I find it highly unlikely that this downward trend won't continue across the board. I agree, I doubt anything will come of this whole thing. Companies like Google will have to foot the bill to get their data to us, but I'm sure the entrenched telco monopolies will leave individual websites or smaller sites like Slashdot alone and not interfere with their traffic in any way.
    • bandwidth is already plentiful; we're talking about hypothetical harms here. (For the record, I actually downgraded my broadband a few months ago, with absolutely no complaints).

      I would replace "already" with "currently". And YOU downgraded your broadband, would you still have no complaints if your were downgraded by your ISP?

      2)companies already pay for ISP's and webhosting; tiered service is not anything new. Anyway, webhosting costs have been decreasing in price. I find it highly unlikely that this
    • They shouldn't be in a market where they only have one ISP to choose from.

      Yeah, but we can't legislate additional wires or ISPs into existence. We can, however, legislate that the wires and ISPs exist are used equitably and in a way that protects people from arbitrary pricing and restrictions.

      so I ended up going with a local company for DSL

      The fact that you have that choice is itself a consequence of a legal framework that gives you that choice. Completely unregulated, your phone company would be the only
    • "companies already pay for ISP's and webhosting"

      You don't even know what tiered Internet is all about.

      It's not about paying your own network provider, it's paying DESTINATION (whether final or transit) network provider to carry your traffic at different speeds. It's double-dipping defined.
    • by thebdj (768618) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:22AM (#15501548) Journal
      1) Yes bandwidth is plentiful, and the idea is that ISPs want to charge content providers for the bandwidth. Verizon, Comcast, or whoever want to be able to charge Google for me downloading content from their sites. The idea is stupid because I am already paying for the bandwidth, and this basically amounts to double dipping. They are wanting to get paid twice for the bandwidth.

      2) Yes, they pay for their bandwidth and hosting (if they do not host on their own, and most smart and big companies do) from the ISP they get their services through. We are talking about double, triple, quadruple billing companies just so they can have guaranteed access to customers.

      3) You are joking right? If you transfer the cost to the content providers, you will be lucky to see any cost drops in user services. Why? Because most telecoms are already having trouble with old business models. They will continue to charge current rates, which honestly may be reaching their minimums sooner rather then later. It will actually probably mean in increase in services we currently pay for online too. If the content providers are paying the ISPs extra money, they will need more money to cover their cost and this ultimately comes from the consumers.

      4) Yes, because so many people ISP hop. You know that the reason many people never switch services is because of e-mail addresses? It is similar to the reason people would never leave cell phone companies until after the government said you have to allow people to take their numbers with them. Once this happened, people began becoming cell phone company hoppers and the wars for customers began anew, because now people can change at the end of their contract and have nothing to hold them there.

      5) If service providers create a tiered system, where they decide who and what gets the traffic, then your P2P will be shot to hell. Most cable companies will start finding ways to block or increase the cost for VoIP providers to their customers. Remember, most these companies are owned by larger corporations with a variety of interests that conflict with consumer interests. A tiered internet is basically going to turn into a bidding war for what content providers can pay the ISPs the most money. It will kill the concept of a free internet by giving the people with money a means to ensure they are the most accessible and usable sites.

      6) I hate government regulation, but before this bill amendment there were regulations in place that helped to ensure this would stay free. I really have a hard time seeing how the concept of net neutrality is ever a bad thing, but I welcome someone to give me an example.

      7) What extra bandwidth? What half the cost? Has anyone but a telecom said they will offer you more bandwidth with lower costs if they can spread the charges around? I really do not believe most of what Verizon, AT&T or any of the other companies tell me. Besides, your ToS and EULA are probably already much more restrictive then you realize...including the ability to shut off your connection for abusing the bandwidth, hosting a server (in many contracts for home users), or for using P2P networking, even if you are not breaking the bandwidth abuse.

      8) No. The problem is they do not trust the telecoms to self-regulate. Seriously, the telecom industry has to be one of the most untrusted industries, right up there with the oil companies. We have a group that charges mysterious fees (look at your phone bill) and has no real competition. VoIP is hardly competition, since it has its own array of problems and deficiencies.

      9) This problem boils down to a lack of competition in most areas. In some cases, the monopolies over the phone lines are locally approved, while in other cases it is just a lack of companies willing to setup their own userbase for DSL services. This could also relate to a name recognition problem. I mean it is sort of hard to compete against Telecos and cable companies for recognition...I mean in some areas t
    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:28AM (#15501591)
      4)So what if SBC decides to implement a tiered system of bandwidth! Consumers just stop renewing their contracts if they hate it enough. That's much better than making courts and legislators do a lot of hairsplitting about what legislative intent was/should be.

      My dad and step-mother live in a small town 120 miles from the nearest large metropolitan area in BellSouth territory. Here are there choices for high speed internet:
      The local cable company
      There is no 2nd choice. His 2nd choice is dialup. So suppose the cable company decideds to implement tiered bandwidth and my dad doesn't like it. He has no choice because going back to dialup is not a choice.

      I suspect that a rather large number of Americans are in exactly the same position as my father. They have one choice for high speed internet where they live, so going with someone else isn't an option.
      • And if anybody else wants to get into the game, such as a fiber or wireless provider, the telco and cable co sue. It happened here in Columbia, MO when the University of Missouri paid for and laid a big 160Mbit fiber loop from the campus to the backbone server a couple of miles away and was going to sell excess bandwidth to the residents to The local telephone monopoly, CenturyTel, sued them for "unfair competition" (sic) and won. They also made the university quit selling DSL to off-campus students, staff
    • I think the harm being addressed here is that consumers and businesses need more alternatives for obtaining net access. They shouldn't be in a market where they only have one ISP to choose from.

      This is the crucial part. Yeah if there were plenty of competitors and plenty of parallel alternative routes owned by different people to get from point A to point B on the internet, we wouldn't have anything to worry about as competition would take care of the problem.

      However, is this ever going to happen? Is

    • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:49AM (#15501742) Homepage
      1)bandwidth is already plentiful; we're talking about hypothetical harms here. (For the record, I actually downgraded my broadband a few months ago, with absolutely no complaints).

      If this was universally true, then paying extra to have your traffic prioritized would make no sense -- on a non-full network all packets arrive in a timely manner. The fact that Telecom considers selling this, and thinks they'll get buyers, tells me that either you're wrong. Or they're considering purposefully delaying "non-prioritized" traffic. It's a simple matter to configure a router so that f.ex. voIP is only usable with high priority. This represents a step backwards from todays situation. Furthermore, earning money from selling "high priority" gives them an incentive to ensure that non-prioritized traffic moves more sluggishly.

      4)So what if SBC decides to implement a tiered system of bandwidth! Consumers just stop renewing their contracts if they hate it enough.

      Many consumers will have little/no choise. Internet is today an utility, going without is as unthinkable to many as going without telephone. Many consumers are on 12-month contracts and cannot get out on short notice. Many consumers have only one, or only a small handful of broadband-providers available.

      6)as an independent content producer (and soon a distributor), I want the Net environment to be as unregulated as possible (even from laws that purport to ensure acess). If some ISPs are going to charge for tiered service, either they better offer substantial benefits to customers or people will abandon them in droves.

      That is naive. And I hope you see it. More likely they'll have some high-profile agreements with some high-desirability content-producers essentially as marketing. People will *prefer* using that ISP, because by them you can get the newest Disney-shite or whatever at "guaranteed high speed". Those people will get sluggish access to for example your content, unless you bend over and pay what is demanded. If you *do* bend over and pay, you're back to status quo -- your traffic has the same priority as that from Disney.

      8)There is a certain arrogance to the notion that consumers can't be trusted to act in their self-interest but require government's "help" to be protected.

      Perhaps it's arrogant. But I'd take a wager that 9 out of 10 broadband-subscribers couldn't even tell you what "net neutrality " means. How can they choose intelligently when they don't even know there's a choise to be made ?

      9)I think the harm being addressed here is that consumers and businesses need more alternatives for obtaining net access. They shouldn't be in a market where they only have one ISP to choose from.

      Agreed. They shouldn't be. But many are. My mothers choises for broadband just last month went up from zero to 1. Any "choise" she has is illusoric at best. (in *principle* she could go back to metered dial-up access at $1/hour, but that's not much of a choise...)

    • While I find the notion of adding more laws to the internet a difficult one, I don't find your comments all that persuasive.

      Since I'm in an area with a single DSL provider (with Comcast also in the broadband market), I pay quite a bit (don't ask) for DSL and I have to buy a landline (an expensive one at that) as well. I find the notion that my DSL provider will be allowed to (essentially) raise their prices arbitrarily on either specific applications or bandwidth uncongenial. Since the content provider

    • by dsginter (104154) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:57AM (#15501799)
      I was listening to (I believe) NPR the other day and an advocate of the telecoms explained the situation to make it sound like the new multimedia applications (YouTube, Google Video, etc) were the bad guys. But, behind his explanation was this:

      "We've traditionally used bandwidth as a marketing stat. The average Joe never uses the full extent of their available bandwidth. But now, new applications are popping up and changing this at our expense. We also believe that the providers (google, youtube, etc) are serving these applications at no cost so, instead of charging more for bandwidth, we'd like to do something entirely more profitable."

      The straw man here is that the providers *do* pay for their side of the bandwidth. It just boils down to the fact that the telecoms would rather implement greed instead of pragmatism as a solution.
  • Rejected (Score:5, Funny)

    by OSS_ilation (922367) on Friday June 09, 2006 @08:59AM (#15501395)
    I'd try and make a pithy, Slashdot-worthy sarcastic comment, but my ISP doesn't allow that unless I upgrade to the Crusty Cynic Power User Package for an additional $9.95 a month.
  • Huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Tyrsenus (858934) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:01AM (#15501408)
    Why can't I view this article?

    Oh wait...
  • by l2718 (514756) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:02AM (#15501417)

    I assume we're talking here about ISPs discriminating in favour of their own paid subscription services, as opposed to the backbone operators doing the same. Now the ISP's infrastructure is private, and there seems to be a competition among ISPs. Will they all practice packet discrimination? I doubt it.

    You can say that this breaks the "spirit of the internet", but some packet discrimination is essential when routers have to choose which packets to forward first, especially when some traffic should be low-latency, other high-bandwidth, other low-priority. I agree that the best solution is for the end-users to pay for their traffic, not the solution provider, but again -- it's the ISP's infrastructure and they can choose their own business model.

    • Now the ISP's infrastructure is private, and there seems to be a competition among ISPs

      What is your definition of an ISP? My definition is a company that provides internet connectivity to residential customers - like Verizon and Comcast.

      These companies like to claim that all their "investments" in infrastructure are private - but that is a load of bullshit. They all rely on government granted right of way to string their wires around, thus they are all public utilities. In many cases they also rely on pub
  • US = Fuxx0red (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:03AM (#15501419) Homepage
    Ok, so rather than whine about how our government is corrupt and quickly ruining life in America...I want to talk about solutions.

    The telcos will begin the tiered internet pricing, and in the end the price hike will inevitably cost the consumer more.

    What I want to know is, how can I get around their speed throttling for sites that do not pay up? I am not that savvy when it comes to coding my own scripts, but are there any tools that will help make things stay the same usage wise (if not price wise)?

    Also, can someone clearly list some bullet points of how this will ultimately affect the end user? I'd like to share them with my family and explain to my Republican father how his boys have ruined our countries future.

    • What I want to know is, how can I get around their speed throttling for sites that do not pay up? I am not that savvy when it comes to coding my own scripts, but are there any tools that will help make things stay the same usage wise (if not price wise)?

      If you ask me, the solution is simple: get a different broadband provider. By the way: do you mind that Verizon charges less when you call in-network as opposed to out-of-network?

    • Re:US = Fuxx0red (Score:3, Informative)

      by iamhassi (659463)
      "Also, can someone clearly list some bullet points of how this will ultimately affect the end user?

      did you RTFA? It's pretty clear, otherwise Save The Internet [savetheinternet.com] dumbs it down for ya a bit.
    • Re:US = Fuxx0red (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      Solutions? simple do what we did in the early to mid 80's.

      have lots of linux and BSD machines at key locations creating the "freebie-net" that relay information. Typically if you plop servers at universities you get around most of the BS but ploping a server physically near google, yahoo, etc.. you get to route around these "slow lanes" the telcos create.

      Encrypted tunnels from University to University will thwart the best telco attempts to try and detect any subverting of the throttling lanes and you use
    • Re:US = Fuxx0red (Score:3, Interesting)

      by evilviper (135110)

      What I want to know is, how can I get around their speed throttling for sites that do not pay up?

      1. Get an 802.11 card and the best antenna you can find/afford.
      2. Read up on radiowave propogation in the 2.4GHz frequencies.
      3. Plot out a map of repeaters to get the signal to/from your house to/from the nearest big city.
      4. Attempt to secure the necessary land rights.
      5. Start collecting donations for the project.
      6. Get to work buying and installing the equipment.
      7. Ping.

      .
      I'm currently in a pretty good spot, mys

  • wasn't the "net neutrality bill" actually -against- the principle of net neutrality? and thus, by the bill not passing, hasn't net neutrality scored a victory?
  • The House is really on a roll today. Not only did they reject net neutrality proposals, but they also approved a digital licensing bill [com.com] which was discussed on Slashdot before, that has fair-use implications for consumers.

    It looks like consumers just can't win in these battles these days.
  • Remind me to buy all the stock I can in non-US web hosts. I have a feeling that market's about to explode.
  • Silly people! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by k98sven (324383) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:13AM (#15501485) Journal
    Of course that wouldn't pass. The Federal Communications Commission doesn't exist to provide government regulation of the communications sector in order to protect consumer interests. That would be patently ridiculous because the USA is a free-market economy, which means you can just run your own copper wire to your neighbor's house and start your own network if you're not happy with the one that exists. And if you don't get a permit to dig you can always use a pair of tin cans and a string.

    No people, the Federal Communications Commission exists to censor those communications from swearwords and nudity, which is obviously a much more important thing for government to be doing.

  • It's a little late to worry about reading the text and contacting your Congressman, but here's a link [loc.gov] to the bill. Here's a link [house.gov] to see how your Congressman voted.
  • Does anybody know where we can find the voting record? I'd like to see how my representative voted -- I sent him a rather lenghtly letter with a nice executive summary (for quicker reading), and I'd like to be able to tell him I'm either going to vote for him again, or that I'm crossing party lines on my next trip to the polls....
  • "Representative Fred Upton, head of the House telecommunications subcommittee, said competition could mean people save $30 to $40 each month on their net access fees."

    Really, well, I'm already paying less than $30/mo, are the ISPs going to pay me for using their services? No more likely they'll charge the content providers and leave me with the slow speeds that I already have. After all, the slower the speed of the user, the more they can charge the content providers.

    I can't wait for Google and its da

  • encrypt everything (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Thaelon (250687) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:18AM (#15501514)
    Couldn't you just encrypt all traffic?

    Then they wouldn't have any way to know how to filter it would they?

    Maybe by port number.....but they wouldn't be able to parse packets for "google" and slow those down.

    My TCP/IP knowledge is rusty...but maybe you can't encrypt the destination port.......yet.

    As for this:
    Representative Fred Upton, head of the House telecommunications subcommittee, said competition could mean people save $30 to $40 each month on their net access fees.

    It's utter bullshit. The ISPs won't lower the bills the end users, they'll just pocket the profits from prioritizing provider content.

    Look for a technological workaround to this problem soon.
  • Is there a site that list which people in the house voted for and against the bill. I think that would be nice to know so I can determine if I should vote for them (for standing their ground and voting for Net Nutrality, or against them for voting against it.), My personal echonomy and I am sure many slashdotters out there depend on Net Nutrality for their jobs. We don't all work for major corporations who can easilly aford extra costs without blinking an eye.
  • by Greased Monkey (920411) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:18AM (#15501521) Homepage
    and yet, here is a case where the government has decided NOT to add additional regulation, and just hear the hue and cry! Ultimately, if I or you, or ABC Giant Corporation(tm) pays for the infrastructure and owns the equiptment, don't they have the right to charge as they see fit for access? If I run a dry-cleaner can't I charge more for same-day service? Isn't reasonable that I might charge a frequent customer less, or I might charge more to clean your sequined tube-top? (sissy). The Cato Institue [cato.org] explains a more libertarian perspective on things [cato.org]
    "The regulatory regime envisioned by Net neutrality mandates would also open the door to a great deal of potential "gaming" of the regulatory system and allow firms to use the regulatory system to hobble competitors. Worse yet, it would encourage more FCC regulation of the Internet and broadband markets in general."
    Is it just me, or are a lot of people asking the government to regulate our businesses?
  • by s0abas (792033) <shadowphoenix@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:19AM (#15501525)
    The biggest problem I have with this bill is that the lines aren't the telco's to regulate in the first place. Here's the sequence of events in the form of a chat log:

    Telcos: Hey congress, we want to build fiber to have a faster internet for the future. Would you please pay for it?
    Congress: Sure! That sounds like a swell idea. Here's some money!
    Telcos: (Later) Congress we ran out of money! Can we have some more?
    Congress: Sure! Just finish the daggone thing already!
    Telcos: (More Later) Congress we ran out of money! Can we have some more?
    Congress: Sure! Just finish the daggone thing already!
    Telcos: (Even More Later) Congress we ran out of money! Can we have some more?
    Congress: Sure! Just finish the daggone thing already!
    Telcos: Congress! WTF! We want to be able to charge people more for using these lines you paid for with taxpayer dollars!
    Congress: FINE JUST GO AWAY
    • great skit, but you forgot:

      telcos: how about you let us really leverage our monopoly...
      Congress: we couldn't do that, it just wouldn't be fair...
      telcos: remember how we let you spy on everyone, you should see what we have on you....
      Congress: FINE JUST GO AWAY
  • You can buy faster broadband. Why aren't all of the people paying $15/month griping that their bandwidth is less than those paying $45/month?
  • Sigh. (Score:2, Troll)

    by keyne9 (567528)
    And so ends freedom on the internet. Fuck you, congress.
  • It's simple... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lurker187 (127055) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:23AM (#15501560)
    I'd much prefer government regulation of the Internet than corporate regulation of the Internet, which is what the access providers are angling for. Verizon is my ISP, and they have been quite explicit in stating that they think Google should pay them every time I access Google. I can't say this any more plainly:

    THAT'S WHAT I'M PAYING THEM FOR!

    I'd rather go back to dial-up than watch them extort content providers.
  • by MECC (8478) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:24AM (#15501563)
    Large media conglomerates going for the throats of providers.

    Why? Because a large media provider will pay extra so their video and other content will get faster downloads. Like for example Disney paying TimeWarner. Then, however, to Disney's surprise, the speed of their media on the Internet only improves a little - very little.

    Why? Because in order for the so-called 'toll lanes' or 'fast lanes' to actually make any real difference, each and every piece of equipment in between the provider and the consumer will have to have a compatible configuration - each and every switch, firewall, and router. Ultimately the end ISP has the most ability to impact how much prioritization will improve performance. So, Disney shells out millions to TW, only to find out they got snake oil. Large contracts like that don't get negotiated without SLAs, all of which have rebate clauses. Which will inevitably get enforced. In court.

    Each time a packet crosses to another providers network, the treatment of prioritization setting in the packet will change, if respected at all. Who could possibly believe that AT&T will treat Verizon's IP priority settings exactly the same as their own. So, the likelyhood that telcos will be at eachother's throats is a possibility as well. Run a traceroute and see how many providers the takes to get to google, apple, or Disney. Then think about how well those providers will be at deploying effective prioritization amongst themselves. Not very well will be the answer.

    Its kind of like locking a bunch of cannibals together in a room with no food. All the better.

  • Soooo... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr.Scamp (974300) on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:26AM (#15501578)
    So when google lights up all that dark fiber and goes into the ISP business, will I be able to tell Verizon to stuff their toll lanes or will Verizon still be able to stick their fingers in the pie due to Interconnects?
  • by wazzzup (172351) <astromac.fastmail@fm> on Friday June 09, 2006 @09:56AM (#15501793)
    I emailed my (Republican) Congressman about this and this was his response for the curious. I disagree with much of what he said but perhaps there are some discussion points here.

    Dear Chris :

    Thank you for contacting me regarding recent interest group proposals for so-called "net neutrality." It is good to hear from you.

    This year, Congress will reauthorize the 1996 Telecommunications Act. One of the key criticisms of that act (and the original 1934 version for that matter) is that, despite supposedly benevolent intentions, Congress essentially picked winners and losers in the various sectors of the telecommunications industry instead of allowing a free marketplace in which competition would lead to new technology, better service, and lower prices for consumers. As a result, many industry experts have concluded that governmental regulation has impeded the emergence of new technology and better applications. Perhaps the biggest example of America's stifled telecommunications progress is that the United States, despite being the world's economic powerhouse, is currently ranked 16 th for Internet broadband deployment. In anticipation of the reauthorization, I believe we must honestly examine and reflect upon the many government regulations already on the books and carefully consider the pros and cons of any newly-proposed regulations before endorsing proposals that may simply sound good on the surface.

    One of the issues that Congress will address is the concept known as "net neutrality." Certain interest groups and press editorialists proclaim that Congress should mandate that cable and telephone industry broadband operators offer control of their networks equally to any and all Internet traffic. In fact, several major software and e-commerce firms have already formed a lobbyist organization called the Coalition of Broadband Users and Innovators (CBUI) to petition the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to do just that. In the name of preserving "network neutrality" and Internet "openness," CBUI members argue that the FCC must adopt preemptive "nondiscrimination safeguards" to ensure Internet users open and unfettered access to online content and services in the future. Despite the rhetoric however, there is currently no evidence that broadband operators are going out of their way to block access to any widely used websites or similar online services. In fact, any significant discriminatory behavior on the part of broadband service providers ( BSPs ) would generally be financially counterproductive considering that BSPs make more money by carrying more traffic. On the rare occasion that a BSP may actively regulate traffic or impose differential pricing schemes on their network, it would likely be for rather sensible reasons. Network owners may want to discourage the use of certain devices on their networks to avoid system crashes, interference, or signal theft. They may want to price services differently to avoid network congestion and/or conserve bandwidth. They may want to exclusively partner with other firms to help them reach new customers and ultimately create superior services. And perhaps they may very well direct users towards some content before others because it helps them make the necessary money to recoup the huge investment required to create and build out broadband networks. Outlawing the ability of network owners to favor certain content kills a major financial incentive for entrepreneurs to invent and build new networks in the first place. Ultimately, in the absence of clear harm, government typically does not regulate in the preemptive fashion that CBUI members are requesting.

    Please be aware that the House Energy and Commerce Committee recently passed the Communications Opportunity, Promotion, and Efficiency Act of 2006. Among other points, the act empowers the FCC
    • Holy crap. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TomatoMan (93630)

      Let's just add a little emphasis here... it's amazing how slippery you can be with vague qualifications slipped into your rhetoric.

      Despite the rhetoric however, there is currently no evidence that broadband operators are going out of their way to block access to any widely used websites or similar online services. In fact, any significant discriminatory behavior on the part of broadband service providers ( BSPs ) would generally be financially counterproductive considering that BSPs make more money by ca

    • "despite the rhetoric however, there is currently no evidence that broadband operators are going out of their way to block access to any widely used websites or similar online services. "

      Right, nobody blocked VoIP at all...

      "In fact, any significant discriminatory behavior on the part of broadband service providers ( BSPs ) would generally be financially counterproductive considering that BSPs make more money by carrying more traffic. On the rare occasion that a BSP may actively regulate traffic or impose

    • My explanation:

      2004 election donations [opensecrets.org]
      2005-2006 donations [opensecrets.org]

      I guess AT&T has further payments to make for this year's election, to at least match 2004...

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