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The Real Issue With Net Neutrality 239

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the people-always-the-problem dept.
An anonymous reader writes "TechDirt brings into focus one of the largest problems in the net neutrality debate, not the issues themselves, rather it's the people involved and the lies they like to sling. An example of this is certainly the number of lobbyists that are being looked to as 'experts' and getting their opinions published as such. One specific example was a recent piece published in the Baltimore Sun by Mike McCurry, a lobbyist working for AT&T who claimed that with new legislation working for net neutrality Google wouldn't have to pay a dime. In response, TechDirt has suggested that McCurry should swap telco bills with Google, somehow I doubt it will happen."
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The Real Issue With Net Neutrality

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  • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:22PM (#15826526) Homepage Journal
    The Internet does not exist. It is a figment of the imagination of people in power and the laymen who listen to them. I come from a glorious history of the BBS days (I ran a fairly large multinode Chicagoland BBS for years) where I witnessed the "birth" of the consumer Internet -- thousands of interconnected mini-networks that created a larger one. Now it is millions of mini-networks that make up this thing we call the Net, but it still doesn't exist. There are thousands of Internets, and there is no real way to regulate them.

    We have to realize that EVERY law that goes into existence does so for two reasons:

    1. To try to fix some problem that exists TODAY.
    2. To try to give more power to the few who love power over the masses.

    These both go hand-in-hand. Laws don't regularly leave the books, so they stick around for generations, usually preventing new creations from makig our lives better. The power passes hands from one politician to the next, and the elite few know they can use that power to make their lives better at a very small expense to each individual of the masses. What do you care if a regulation costs you US$10 a year more? When 100 million taxpayers each pay that US$10 per year for a regulation or preferential treatment, someone is taking in US$1 billion because of it. It is in their interest to keep the laws on the books.

    Net neutrality doesn't matter because the Internet as it is today doesn't matter. Over time, preferred networks will have to occur in some way, and that is OK. AOL had their own network, but it failed. Compuserve had a huge "Internet" for years before IP was the preferred transport, and it failed. Google has its own network of caches and archives, but it isn't what people want to browse (I rarely use Google's cache, unless a site is down or gone). Right now people will switch from ial-up to DSL to cable based on their desire to access information quickly. You can switch over in less than 2 weeks, sometimes days.

    But there are reasons some are precluded from switching easily. Usually it is because a local municipality or state has laws creating a monopoly provider. You can't blame competition for this -- you can blame government. Now some people want to give more power to the Federal government even though the Constitution says they can't have that power. It won't matter -- the politicians are producing large amounts of FUD (along with the businesses that rely on government's ability to create monopolies in markets) to scare the average consumer into believing the "Net" will fall apart if it doesn't remain neutral.

    It won't happen. As long as government doesn't create monopoly powers through Internet regulations, the Net will change to what the consumers want. Right now, the municipalities that dictate which monopoly provider can give the residents access create HUGE problems for those residents. States that do the same also create a huge problem for their residents. Imagine if we pushed those problems to the national level -- we'd all lose the ability to work around monopoly-mandates created by government.

    Don't do it -- don't give the Federal government ANY chance to regulate or require ANYTHING. Let competition give us what we want. Competition crushed AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy in the U.S. Competition crushed the BBSes that hung around while ISPs gave users more information and quicker. Competition crushed the modem to be replaced by 8 different ways to connect to other computers. Competition crushed the CD, the DVD and the newspaper. Let it crush more so we get more for less.
    • by krell (896769) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:25PM (#15826556) Journal
      "Competition crushed the CD, the DVD and the newspaper"

      The DVD is in its prime right now. For that matter, CD sales are still brisk (even now) and there's a lot of dead trees turning into newspapers.
      • by dada21 (163177) * <adam.dada@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:29PM (#15826588) Homepage Journal
        The DVD is in its prime right now.

        You mean "peaking." Blockbuster and NetFlix offices are running around freaking out as we push our net connections to 1Gb/s -- more than fast enough to display HD video real time to the home. While sales numbers may keep climbing, I would venture a guess (an industry-educated guess, at that) that the DVD is already replaced with XViD and fast connections. Two more "evolutionary" steps for video and HD-DVD will be forgotten, too.

        For that matter, CD sales are still brisk (even now)

        I'm already helping bands sell their music at shows straight-to-iPod. A US$100 device (basically a memory stick, a button and an iPod cable) lets bands make infinite margins since they have zero distribution cost (no CDs, no printing costs, etc). It won't be long for CD to be forgotten, either.

        and there's a lot of dead trees turning into newspapers.

        Massive layouts at every newspaper, the resurgence of limited-distribution zines online, and the blogosphere would disagree with you in terms of the next 2 years.
        • by SoCalChris (573049) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:00PM (#15826862) Journal
          Blockbuster and NetFlix offices are running around freaking out as we push our net connections to 1Gb/s -- more than fast enough to display HD video real time to the home. While sales numbers may keep climbing, I would venture a guess (an industry-educated guess, at that) that the DVD is already replaced with XViD and fast connections.
          Don't forget that a good part of the country still does not have broadband available. Video streaming in is impossible for many places, not to mention streaming in HD. Physical media isn't going anywhere, for quite a while.
          • Don't forget that a good part of the country still does not have broadband available. Video streaming in is impossible for many places, not to mention streaming in HD. Physical media isn't going anywhere, for quite a while.

            Really? I see you as being wrong. Check out this image [cable-modem.net]. For those VERY few white spots on the map, you have Satellite broadband [wildblue.com] which is available in 99.9% of the US.

            According to various trade journal publications, the days of 1.5Mb/s are over, soon to be replaced with 1.5Gb/s bandwidt
            • by dgatwood (11270) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:33PM (#15827096) Journal

              The scary part of that map is that the green areas are areas in which there is still no viable competition. One telco plus one cable modem provider does not competition make. That means for maybe 3% of the country, there is a true broadband marketplace, and the other 97% still gets stuck with a bill for $50/month for 384/128k. Yes, I'm exaggerating a little, but only a little....

            • by SoCalChris (573049) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:42PM (#15827142) Journal
              According to your image, I live in an area with 1-3 high speed providers available. The one that is available offers an 84kbps connection over 802.11b, which is hardly enough bandwidth for streaming video in any resolution, let alone a resolution that I would want to watch full length movies on. The connection that they provide is often unreliable. They won't improve the connection, because they don't have any competition for us to go to instead. The phone company does not offer DSL anywhere near us, and there is no cable tv company here.

              Satellite is available, but I doubt I would be able to watch most of a 30 minute tv show before they throttled my connection down for using too much bandwidth.
              • heheh.. according to the image it is from the FCC.. no wonder it doesn't make sence to the people who know what goes on in the areas..

                on a nother note.. the whole satellite throttling thing is annoying... i know someone who has it and was using it.. when it started to get Really slow he called them.. the tech blamed it on bad weather.. (by the way it was sunny no clouds to be seen.) once he pointed this out.. the connection was fine again.. atleast for another 15min until he got off the phone

                they are a
            • And on another note, I highly doubt the accuracy of that map, considering that they show Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park both have high speed internet available in them.
            • Very few spots? There's massive white space on your broadband map...not to mention the distinct unreliable of most rural broadband providers, and the relatively poor speeds those rural areas still get. And that satellite broadband you were touting defaults to 512Mb/s, which is barely good enough to browse static web pages. And lets don't forget, the cost associated with even minimally acceptable broadband is still beyond the means of huge segments of the American populace. You don't see a lot of people liv
            • The data is five and a half years old, and from an era when you could theoretically get DSL in major metro areas from a number of different providers, all of which were essentially crushed by the telcos who made it practically impossible to use their phone lines. Monopoly power, indeed.
            • by Richard Steiner (1585) <rsteiner@visi.com> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:31PM (#15827449) Homepage Journal
              Wow, that map is seriously misleading. I live in a suburb of Atlanta which is shown as orange (4-6 providers), but the only two providers I'm aware of in our area are Comcast (cable) and BellSouth (DSL). That's two.

              The same situation existed when I lived five miles away in a different city (different cable company, same number of choices: two). That sure ain't four. :-(

              The map also shows most of the Twin Cities metro as orange, but I know for a fact that my old townhouse only had Qwest DSL and RoadRunner available, and there are LOTS of places that have cablemodem but no DSL at all due to distance from the CO or old POTS infrastructure that doesn't support a DSL connection.

              I think the map was produced by an extreme optimist. :-)
        • It isn't just some movie that I want to watch, but I want all the materials associated with it (the bonus stuff found on a typical DVD) along with the sense of ownership that DVD's currently give me.

          While being able to watch streaming video is nice, such streaming only suppliments DVDs (in my view) and doesn't directly replace them.
    • by BalanceOfJudgement (962905) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:40PM (#15826691) Homepage
      As long as government doesn't create monopoly powers through Internet regulations
      I frequently read your posts, and sometimes I wonder what you're really after.

      The government has ALREADY created monopoly powers for internet companies - unless you want 45 different lines running down your street, you get one, maybe two providers.

      The tradeoff that these natural monopolies provide is that they don't get to benefit from being a monopoly (i.e., regulation and price ceilings). It's a non-ideal solution for an unsolveable problem, but it's a necessary solution that is practical, much as the anti-regulation crowd may hate it.

      Everyone I've seen rail against regulation on the grounds that "regulation never encourages competition" always seems to forget that Net Neutrality proponents are only trying to restore the very balance that DID exist, the balance that the FCC removed last year.

      • The government has ALREADY created monopoly powers for internet companies - unless you want 45 different lines running down your street, you get one, maybe two providers.


        Huh? Why is this a problem? 45 different lines won't occupy much more space than they already do -- plus I doubt we'd see this problem as I think we'd see companies dedicated to pulling lines to re-lease to others if we had more competition in the municipalities. To think that every company would want their own lines is unrealistic, just
        • Beutiful, you get the government to end its support of telecom monopolies and I'll stop supporting Net Neutrality.. Deal?
          • Not gonna work. The reason there are monopolies in the telecom industry is that for 99% of the country (square-footage-wise), a second company would simply go out of business. Hell, here in the Silicon Valley, we had a choice in local phone companies for exactly a year. Nobody chose it because SBC wouldn't allow a VCLEC and a DCLEC on the same line.. Then SBC bought the other choice. So much for your free market. Not that someone couldn't come in and put in a new wire infrastructure, but that's never

            • I've always been a fan of C. Dispite personally being pro free market. Most roads are operated by the government for this reason. There are some community owned and private last mile roads as well as private (toll) expressways. But I wouldn't have a problem with this in the internet but currently most of the internet roads were built with tax payer money but still owned by local companies. This is the worse situation. No community planner would ever envisions doing this to our roads.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I frequently read your posts, and sometimes I wonder what you're really after.
        Attention.
      • Most of the US has far more than two broadband providers.

        Usually there's only one cable TV company, and usually they're the only ones who sell cable modem service on it, though sometimes they're more open than that, and sometimes RCN or another overbuilder put in a second cable system. (In much of the country, the telco is trying to get into the wired-TV business, as well as reselling satellite TV, and that's what's really driving much of this debate, other than political opportunism by carpetbaggers li

    • Don't do it -- don't give the Federal government ANY chance to regulate or require ANYTHING.

      It's not necessary to be proactive about this. It will just happen. Like water, human interest will flow through the path of least resistance. That's why so many people download movies and music - the alternatives are more work and less satisfying. Where there is a crippled internet there will always be 1000 untethered darknets.

      Industry, and later government, will adapt or die. For instance, look at your
    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:48PM (#15826765)
      Don't do it -- don't give the Federal government ANY chance to regulate or require ANYTHING. Let competition give us what we want. Competition crushed AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy in the U.S. Competition crushed the BBSes that hung around while ISPs gave users more information and quicker. Competition crushed the modem to be replaced by 8 different ways to connect to other computers. Competition crushed the CD, the DVD and the newspaper. Let it crush more so we get more for less.

      I consider myself a Republican, but I'm going to say something against the party line - the free market does NOT solve all ills! Where exactly is this competition of which you speak? Tell that to the masses of Americans who do not live in large towns and have only source for broadband. Where exactly do they go when their local broadband provider charges them AND Google and friends more?

      Guys like you always spout off the same tired nonsense - "If company A charges me too much for broadband, then I'll go to company B!" What exactly do you when there is no company B in your small town?

      There are things in life in which it is useful to have government regulation. There are things in which it is useful to not have government regulation. I feel sorry for you that you are yet another person too blind to see that. You are going to get your wish. It's clear that Net Nuetrality is dead and for better or worse (probably worse) we're going to have to live with that.

      By the way, AOL and Prodigy are both still around. I don't know about Compuserve. In the case of AOL, I think it wasn't just competition that killed them but other factors.
      1) Increasing technical knowledge by their customers who finally realized that there was more to the internet than AOL and its hand holding.
      2) Increasing desire of Americans to move to broadband with the realization that AOL didn't really offer any value for the extra money if they already had broadband. It's one thing to pay AOL for a dial up connection. It's something else to pay for broadband AND then pay for AOL on top of that.
      3) AOL's prices weren't very good compared to the competition.
      4) AOL's very unpopular mail campaigns may have, in fact, turned off potential customers.
      5) AOL's terrible reputation for customers being unable to cancel service surely was a huge negative. If you're a 22 year old graduate on your own for the first time are you going to sign up with a service that makes it essentially impossible to cancel? Probably not.
      • Where exactly is this competition of which you speak? Tell that to the masses of Americans who do not live in large towns and have only source for broadband. Where exactly do they go when their local broadband provider charges them AND Google and friends more?

        You should thank earlier efforts to regulate telephony, cable service, and Internet provision for this situation.

        More regulation is not the answer... When I get mistreated by a service provider (any service), I don't want to call the district attor

      • I consider myself a Republican, but I'm going to say something against the party line - the free market does NOT solve all ills!

        Of course it doesn't -- but it can. I bet that most of the ills you speak of are completely non-existent.

        Where exactly is this competition of which you speak? Tell that to the masses of Americans who do not live in large towns and have only source for broadband. Where exactly do they go when their local broadband provider charges them AND Google and friends more?

        So start your own
        • with my ISP

          And herein lies the rub. What are you going to do when your mini-ISP's ISP kills all your clients' connections to Google? Switch to another ISP who... suprise! ultimately gets their internet connection from the same place you did and is currently having the same problem?

          Regulation or no regulation, once the telcos and cable companies have crossed this line, it will be VERY expensive to fix it if they can't be forced to retreat on their own (and seriously, now that the statement of intent has be
          • And herein lies the rub. What are you going to do when your mini-ISP's ISP kills all your clients' connections to Google? Switch to another ISP who... suprise! ultimately gets their internet connection from the same place you did and is currently having the same problem?

            You think big.

            You talk to the other mini-ISPs across the country, and form the Free Net Foundation. You raise some money (remember, you've already got 1000s of customers in these mini-ISPs), set up a new backbone (I've heard that Google owns
        • by Sir.Cracked (140212) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:23PM (#15827393) Homepage
          It's not the ISP that is going to be charging their extortion tax. It's the long haul telcos. So, it won't matter if I start my own ISP, I still have to hook into ATT, or some other major telco. And that's why the lack of net nutrality sucks. I'm already paying (as an ISP) ATT big bucks for my T3's or whatever pipe I need.

          That bandwidth is PAID FOR. Repeatedly.

          Google pays for the bits that go to and from their pipe. So, If I send a packet to google, I pay to send the packet (admitedly, only fractions of a penny for a single packet, but you'll have that), Google pays to recieve and reply to that packet, and then I pay to recieve that reply (every bit going over my line requires bandwidth, and therefore I have paid for that bandwidth, even if not paying per bit or minute etc).

          The packet both ways uses up bandwidth on two connections that are both paid for. The consumer pays the ISP, the ISP pays the Telco, and so on. So, that comunication has already been paid for. And now, the telco wants MORE money just to keep the packets going at the speed they are at today.

          This is just pure greed. Period. And not one person who advocates doing away with net nutrality has brought up one argument to explain why the Telco should get paid a third to possibly a FIFTH time for the same message sequence. If anyone can explain why, I'm all ears.
      • "If company A charges me too much for broadband, then I'll go to company B!" What exactly do you when there is no company B in your small town?

        Well since currently regulation requires Company B to have to jump through all kinds of hoops if they're allowed into your small town to begin with, you're in trouble. But this is where "the market will pay exactly what something is worth" comes in. If Company A doesn't offer enough to justify what it's costing you, then you don't pay for it. If they want your busi

        • The issue is Companies B, C, D, and E can't get into your small town because of government. Fix that problem with deregulation, and nobody is going to care about "net neutrality".

          But the reality is that everybody's not talking about deregulation; if anything, the telcos are pushing for more monopoly powers. They want to not have to be neutral and be a monopoly at the same time.

          The problem is that since any debate about stopping the monopolies is drowned out by "net neutrality," anyone arguing against it i

          • I'm arguing against net neutrality, but I'm not arguing in favor of giving monopolies free reign. They already have free reign. What I'm arguing for is to end this pointless debate about net neutrality, and then allow the telcos to come in and bust up the monopolies already in place by cable companies. Ta-da! No more monopolies, and if one of the MSOs suddenly stops being neutral and I happen to care about that, I can easily jump ship to another MSO that is neutral, or not neutral in a way that I don't obje
            • They already have free reign.

              No they don't; they're supposed to be "common carriers" which means they can't discriminate based on content (for example, by charging more for some packets because they came from Google). The monopoly ISPs are trying to abolish that; most everyone else is trying to keep it.

              and then allow the telcos to come in and bust up the monopolies already in place by cable companies.

              What are you talking about?! The telcos won't do that; half the time they're the monopolies in the first

              • Maybe I just have a different definition of "free reign", but mine goes something like "monopolies can do whatever they want because nobody is competing with them".

                And maybe I also have a different definition of "monopoly", but mine goes something like "a company that has a lack of competition in a market".

                So, if you let in the telcos to compete with cable operators who in many cases fit the above definition of monopoly, then by definition, there will no longer be a monopoly. Thus, telcos will bust up monop
                • Maybe I just have a different definition of "free reign", but mine goes something like "monopolies can do whatever they want because nobody is competing with them".

                  No, that's correct -- and that's what will happen without net neutrality.

                  So, if you let in the telcos to compete with cable operators who in many cases fit the above definition of monopoly, then by definition, there will no longer be a monopoly. Thus, telcos will bust up monopolies if given the chance to enter the market.

                  This is entirely myopi

      • The reason you have no "Company B" is probably government regulation. Sure, I don't what anyone to dig up my street at any time, but how realistic is that? It's expensive to dig up streets, even without government regulation, so I doubt it would happen regularly. "Company A" probably has a government enforced monopoly on the right of ways. "Company A" is happy because they own the market, and you are happy because no one is digging up your street. If you really want a open market with competition, you have
    • Cable companies had to sign franchise agreements with each and every municipality in the US, to provide the service in the first place. In return, they got a monopoly on the service, usually at a cost of a local access channel or something.

      The phone companies want "net neutrality" so they can run video in, without having to do this themselves.

      AT&T is running TV ads saying this would mean competition, and thus lower video costs (cable bill) to the consumer.
      • Exactly. If you think about it, there are literally thousands of municipalities across the country. Each one (except in the case of a few states passing state-wide franchising laws) must be individually negotiated with, and at all points the current monopoly in your area can lobby against it. It's an extremely expensive proposition to even get permission to compete, and in some cases permission is not being given (there's some lawsuits going around now as a result of unreasonable demands- I saw one case whe
      • AT&T is running TV ads saying this would mean competition, and thus lower video costs (cable bill) to the consumer.

        And that is a blatant lie, since, as you said, they've still got their monopoly. In reality, since the monopolies aren't going to lose their advantage, we need net neutrality to keep them from fucking us over.

        The only "competition" AT&T wants is pitting MS and Google against each other to bid up the extortion fees for being the "preferred" video provider.

    • And an FP to boot...

      You even pre-empted the usual totalitarian response about the virtues of government oversight.

      Mad props and all!

    • We have to realize that EVERY law that goes into existence does so for two reasons:
      1. To try to fix some problem that exists TODAY.
      2. To try to give more power to the few who love power over the masses.


      You missed: 0. Because some one thinks he can make $$$ from it.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:01PM (#15826869) Journal
      But there are reasons some are precluded from switching easily. Usually it is because a local municipality or state has laws creating a monopoly provider.
      And often those people would have no access to broadband if it weren't for regulated monopoly. In exchange for building out to West Dingleberry, the telco is granted the sole right to serve that area. Otherwise the risk outwieghs the potential profit.

      As long as government doesn't create monopoly powers through Internet regulations, the Net will change to what the consumers want.
      Hardly. As long as there is competition in a hugely capital-intensive market, you'll have a minimum of providers undercutting potential new competition, along with collusion. At best you'll get very, very slow one-upmanship without major capital improvements.

      Competition crushed the CD, the DVD and the newspaper. Let it crush more so we get more for less.
      Let it crush more? So that we have fewer, not more, options as to how we get deliverables? Unregulated markets of non-commodity goods (like internet service) result in monopolies and oligopolies. That's the natural state... even your totally unregulated Austrian model has to adjust for monopolistic force in order to work properly. If you really want better performance in terms of net result for the consumer, you either need to take actions to prevent monopolies, or take actions to regulate them -- whether you're from the Austrian school of thought (such as yourself), the Keynesian (such as the FRB), or another (such as myself). In the case of the telcos, it was determined that regulation was a better bet because of the alternative would have either been state-owned infrastructure, or no service to less dense areas.
      • And often those people would have no access to broadband if it weren't for regulated monopoly. In exchange for building out to West Dingleberry, the telco is granted the sole right to serve that area. Otherwise the risk outwieghs the potential profit.

        There are numerous satellite broadband providers [wildblue.com] offering 1.5Mbps down and up to 256Kbps up throughout all 50 states at around US$50 to US$100 per month. Nothing precludes one person from getting a corporate account that allows reselling of the bandwidth. The
        • No, it isn't. Look at www.dslreports.com to see how many competitors there are -- the less regulation there is in a municipality, the more competition there is.

          Look again in 10 years. Also, whose fiber are they using? How did that fiber get there (who paid for it, and why were they able to afford to pay for it)?

          Again, untrue. Once local service regulations were reduced (and not removed), we saw incredible outreach for cell phone service and broadband access. It wasn't the regulations that gave us this g

        • There are numerous satellite broadband providers offering 1.5Mbps down and up to 256Kbps up throughout all 50 states at around US$50 to US$100 per month. Nothing precludes one person from getting a corporate account that allows reselling of the bandwidth. These speeds are only held back by FCC regulations.

          Wouldn't matter if they had infinite bandwidth. Satellite internet is still a joke. Satellite links with large bandwidth have been around for decades. There's a reason why satellite internet is not


    • Gosh, you're right, everything should be left up to large companies to decide! I'm sure they'll make a decision that's in our best interests!

      Seriously, you convinced me. A body whose mandate is to make profit quarter by quarter is bound to act more in the public interest than a body whose mandate (however theoretical it may sometimes appear) is to serve the public!

      You know what would be cool? If there were _no_ regulations and _nothing_ to stop whichever corporations are best able to exploit the planet a
    • It's clear that you're a free-market advocate, and that's fine, but it seems like net neutrality is a significant and serious enough issue to warrant more than a regurgitation of a general political philosophy. The basic theme I got from your post was "it's foolish for the government to regulate the internet because competition will solve all of the problems".

      I'm not saying you're wrong, exactly, just that bringing nothing to the table but a broad ideological theory isn't very helpful or convicing. If y
      • If nothing else will convince you, consider this. Do you really want a bunch of people in their 50s-70s who don't understand even the most basic of technologies involved with the internet to control it? Regardless of whatever flaws ISPs may have, at the very least they understand the technology, know how to use it, and are willing to take risks to get a greater profit. And remember that that profit comes from customers, who if given choices, will pick the service that will provide them the greatest service
        • Yeah, this is pretty much exactly what I was complaining about in the GP's post. All I'm hearing is theory, theory, theory. I /agree/ with the general principle that we should avoid allowing people who don't understand technology very well to make decisions about it. I /agree/ that "the government that governs least governs best" - at least in theory.

          But there are other theories on the other side that are just as strong. You know, like "information wants to be free" or the idea that nobody, not corpor
          • Firstly, in a free unregulated market, the corporations don't control things. It's a direct democracy where every dollar you spend is a vote. If you're not spending your money, the corporations won't exist for very long (except when the government bails out failing businesses, like the airline industry, something I don't agree with either).

            Secondly, the most practical problem with government regulation in my mind is that I'd rather the government be spending its time, money, and energy (wait, I take that ba
    • I am all in favor of this, as long as we stop all the monopolies which have lead to oliglopolies. Once we prevent these and allow real competition, then unregulated business can happen.

      The other choice (and perhaps a better one), is to minimize the monopoly. Basically allow a company to serve from a CO (or perhaps the green box) to the home. They will be regulated and will NOT be allowed to do anything else WRT content or overall network. While I am not a big fan of regulations, it can be seen that a small
    • The Internet does not exist. It is a figment of the imagination of people in power and the laymen who listen to them. I come from a glorious history of the BBS days (I ran a fairly large multinode Chicagoland BBS for years) where I witnessed the "birth" of the consumer Internet -- thousands of interconnected mini-networks that created a larger one. Now it is millions of mini-networks that make up this thing we call the Net, but it still doesn't exist. There are thousands of Internets, and there is no real w


      • BTW--slightly OT here, but I just knew there was a reason I liked you. Which one did you run? ExecPC?


        Actually, I provisioned an X.25 packet switching connection before I left the pre-Internet business :) So technically I had very nice net access before the big boys. My first ISP as a consumer was Chicago's InterAccess (one of the first large local ISPs). I also did try ExecPC for a while.

        When I ran my FidoNet node (I wish I could recall the number), I had something called a CallPak because my suburb of C
  • What?! (Score:5, Funny)

    by chipotlehero (982154) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:31PM (#15826601)
    During the course of a political debate people are lying?!

    William Randolph Hearst must be rolling (more specifically ROFLING) in his grave.

  • Ted Stevens (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rorian (88503) <james,fysh&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:32PM (#15826616) Homepage Journal
    So.. was Ted Stevens one of those "experts" they're talking about?
  • FWIW (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:38PM (#15826673) Journal
    An interesting point I saw recently (in Forbes, I think) is that this issue is perfect for politicians to keep fighting out. There's an enormous pile of money from lobbyists on both sides, a handful of nerds and Google suckups are the only votes to lose on one side and there are none to lose on the other. So why not keep it going as long and as loudly as possible?

    As long as I'm posting -- is this Ted Stevens "tubes" stuff not becoming as annoying as flying spaghetti and chair throwing references? It's not like more than a handful of those smarmy dweebs could actually explain to you how IP or Ethernet really does work.

    • You can be certain that it won't be settled until well after the election cycle is through this year. There is so much cash involved in this fight that both parties won't stop until they've topped off every soft-money fund they can. At that level, it's only seen as a battle between one group of huge corporations and another group of huge corporations. The general consumer has no say whatsoever in this.
      • The general consumer has no say whatsoever in this.

        Too true. Ok, so you don't like Comcast's stand on neutrality; are going to go to Verizon? Bell South? The consumer is a chicken in a lair of wolves.

        Net Neutrality boils down to a clash of the titans: pipe providers vs. content providers. Both have buckets of cash and its doubtful that this grudge match is going to resolve much. You know that in a non-neutral world, Google will simply run its own fiber everywhere and thumb its nose at the telecoms.

        • You know that in a non-neutral world, Google will simply run its own fiber everywhere and thumb its nose at the telecoms.

          Except for the many places that will let the (no longer neutral) telco keep its monopoly, and prohibit Google from laying that fiber. Everyone there will be entirely fucked over.

    • I could explain it, but more importantly, have you actually read Ted Stevens' statement? It's not just the "tubes" reference, that's part of a much larger completely moronic rant. He obviously has no fucking clue what he's talking about. Fortunately, you seem to, so you should realize that pretty quickly from the actual statement.

      The rules are simple -- don't act like a moron, and you won't be immortalized as one. Ted Stevens, Jerry Taylor, and Steve Ballmer deserve every bit of ridicule they get, and m
    • by six11 (579)

      As long as I'm posting -- is this Ted Stevens "tubes" stuff not becoming as annoying as flying spaghetti and chair throwing references? It's not like more than a handful of those smarmy dweebs could actually explain to you how IP or Ethernet really does work.

      Maybe it is losing its entertainment value. So from that perspective, I suppose it is getting annoying. However, entertainment value isn't the metric that we should really be looking at. The fact of the matter is that Stevens is one of the people who

  • by netwiz (33291) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:39PM (#15826690) Homepage
    Is that Google won't have to pay above and beyond their already astronomical bandwidth costs. Bloodsucking parasites...
    • Is that Google won't have to pay above and beyond their already astronomical bandwidth costs.

      Remember, the Telco line is that Google is making a fortune using their networks & they are getting nothing out of it. They are currently hoping people ignore/don't know that while you pay for your connection, the site you connect to is also paying - again the whole double dip thing.

      The telcos got over $5B in tax credits/subsidies in order to improve the network - they promised 40Mbps. Now they say that unles

  • by mugnyte (203225) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:44PM (#15826739) Journal

      Municipalities are pushing wireless access. Home networking is hot. Wireless access is unibquitous. Add it up. Soon enough, links from one cloud to another will start to happen. When enough content exists within those hops to let users surf for longer and longer time periods before hopping to a big-pipe ISP, you're going to see this mess move on. The largest middleman of the internet to get cut is...the backbone!

        To read the (some of) local newspapers in my hometown (oregonlive), I may be able to go from the city to them. I want more wireless hosting, or perhaps mirrors. It seems this is the only path towards skipping these monopoly wires. Then, they'll have to again offer better price/value points than this garbage bill.

     
    • Soon enough, links from one cloud to another will start to happen.

      I can see this happening in some areas, but certainly not ALL of them.

      Who in Oklahoma is going to pay to build the huge towers needed for carrying the signal across the state? In other areas, you may be able to get a sliver of property on the tops of mountains, and have reasonably short distances between dense population centers to connect, but in most of the US, I don't see this happening in a non-profit way. Forget about intercontinental

    • Mesh networks (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quokkapox (847798)

      When enough content exists within those hops to let users surf for longer and longer time periods before hopping to a big-pipe ISP, you're going to see this mess move on. The largest middleman of the internet to get cut is...the backbone!

      That's why we need wireless hardware that has a built-in 1TB hard disk and talks freely to nearby unrelated wireless hardware. Instead of fetching http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] from the central server each time, you can get it from one of your neighbors. Routers that hash, cach

  • by w33t (978574) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @02:48PM (#15826763) Homepage
    How can normal, non-technical people hope to have a chance of understanding our new world of today and the laws being applied to it?

    I have spent the last few months speaking (sometimes drunkenly) at great lengths about the net neutrality concept - a concept, which quite frankly, I had taken for granted (I didn't really realize the net was neutral, it's just how it has to work). Many of my friends had fallen for the idea that a tiered internet would simply mean better and faster access to video and music. After all, didn't they pay more for "premium" channels on TV?

    My one friend, so adamant - largly because he is naturally agumentative - finally began to realize how easily those in power (and today information is power - has it even not been?) can manipulate the ignorant. He realized this only after he asked me to look at his computer to see why his comcast was so slow (and why his vonage was cutting-out).

    I ran a simple trace route and noticed that it appeared requests to local IPs were being routed through dallas and new york from his home in Sacramento. I told him I didn't think this was the best way to reduce the latency he was getting from his long distance calls and online gaming. I hypothesize that by comcast routing some clients through these innefecient routes they were somehow load-balancing the demand on their network (of course, new york, dallas, and chicago could just be fancy names for comcast's local california routers - but it seems a dubious naming scheme for local devices).

    Without me, his technical friend, he would simply continue to accept his connection as is - and in fact may begin to attribute his degraded service to the FUD of the internet "falling apart".

    There are so few of us who can fully (or at least somewhat) grasp what the debate really means - how can the vast majority of non-technical, voting citizens possibly make informed decisions about this?
  • It is intresting to read sourcewatch. You may find out a lot about these lobbyists. And it is important to take part in lobbying yourself. It is real fun to beat them. If Telcos do not respect net neutrality users will switch to other service.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:00PM (#15826863)
    The primary justification for not having "Network Neutrality" is so that vendors can differentiate content based on how "important" it is. This is often called "Quality of Service" and measures for requesting this sort of stuff is quite established (RFC 1349), and maturing (RFC 2474). These specifications define a portion of each Internet packet that specifies how "important" the packet is, it's so-called "Traffic Class" (IPv6) or "Type of Service" (IPv4). Not only is differentiation of packets based on this service-level a good idea, it has been standardized.

    What is important in Network Neutrality legislation is to ensure that Internet providers do not discriminate based on: (a) the type of content sent, or (b) the sender and/or receiver. What sort of discrimination should be permitted, however, is a differentiation of "quality of service" depending on what the sender/receiver has paid for: with the same rates applying across all of their customers. Hence, the legislation in this area should permit technical advancement in mechanism to partition service based on quality -- but not innovations which extract monopoly rent from particularly lucrative customers and/or content types (or unfavored customers and/or content types).

    A good analogy is sending first-class mail via USPS, the price is the same no matter where the destination is and regardless of what the letter in the envelope says. The "common carrier" doesn't open up letters to see if there is a check/cash inside, and charge a 1% fee for sending monetary instruments. The USPS doesn't differentiate between Joe or Martha in line, play political favoritism, or deliver particular customer's mail faster than others, etc. What USPS does differentiate on is the size of the content sent (ie, number of letters) and on the speed of delivery -- you can get 2nd day overnight, etc. The point is, all businesses and content are equal from the point of view of the mail carrier. So too should the transmission of internet packets be neutral to the sender/receiver and the actual message sent.

    By fighting that all packets are equal is a losing (and wrong headed) battle. What is important is that we fight for democracy on the Internet: Vonage should get the same quality of service per dollar as AT&T VoIP services and even completely unrelated content, such as Google searches. What is being sent and by whom should be forbidden from the price/quality curve - but there should be a curve.
  • McCurry's Favors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:02PM (#15826875) Homepage Journal
    Google is worth $117B, just like McCurry's boss AT&T. He won't be swapping his phonebill for Google's. But I bet he'd still rather pay his $0 Google bill than his phonebill, even if it's from AT&T.
  • Do your part! (Score:5, Informative)

    by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:24PM (#15827027)
    Here is a list of senators and their positions on Net Neutrality...

    http://www.savetheinternet.com/=senatetallybyvote [savetheinternet.com]

    You can call toll free through the Capitol switchboard at 888-355-3588.

    Ted Stevens is trying to force a vote on Thursday, so there is little time! Each phone call is considered to be worth about a 1,000 votes the general election, so your phone call will make a difference!

    The follwing three senators are crucial:

    - Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas
    - Ben Nelson of Nebraska
    - Joe Lieberman of Connecticut

    You can make a difference!!! Call now!

    Thanks,

    Mike
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:41PM (#15827131) Homepage
    I wrote a quickie article in an attempt to simplify network neutrality for the lay person [72.14.207.104].
    (I linked to the Google cache 'cuz my server won't take the load and Coral Cache [coralcdn.org] seems to be down)
  • by nhz (992573) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @03:45PM (#15827155)
    is that there is almost no competitive market to allow the market to provide the service customers want. Most big markets in the US have a duopoly, where 2 companies (DSL and cable) control almost all of the broadband internet market share. And do not tell me there are wireless MANs, broadband over power, satellite broadband, and other options for customers. The majority of U.S. residents do not have these ISPs available as options.

    I would agree that there should be no legislation to force any net neutrality on telcos, but these companies are expressing their INTENT to discriminate against specific content providers. And when both your dsl and cable company discriminate in a similar fashion, by having tiered services, how can you choose to take your business elsewhere?

    Put yourself in the shoes of the executives at the telco companies. If you want to maximize your company's profits, the best thing to do might be to create an artificial shortage of bandwidth for everyone once ANY company is willing to pay for premium routing service. Now consider the point of view of the content providers. You might want to be the first company willing to pay AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, etc. for premium routing service so that you have a competitive advantage in terms of performance. Of course, you will only want to pay for premium service if there is a performance benefit compared to non-premium service, hence discrimination is key for opening this new revenue source.

    Yes, letting the market decide instead of forcing legislation is the best option in a truly competitive environment, but we do not have such competition in the U.S.

  • There are very few times when one is able to see a telecommunications corporation operating in all its vicious glory without any restraint, and this is the very prime example. When legislation and untold millions of dollars are on the line, there is nothing held sacred for those fucks. Outright and flagrantly bullshit lies and slander become a standard of the company's propaganda milieu.

    It's almost like watching one of those slumbering elephants rampage through a peaceful, prosperous village to keep them fr
  • by SpyderPSU (582418)

    You've got to consider the source... Mike McCurry [wikipedia.org]

    FTA:

    Mike McCurry (born 27 October 1954) is best known as the former press secretary for Bill Clinton's administration. He is a Washington-based communications consultant and is associated with the firm Public Strategies Washington, Inc. and the internet technology firm, Grassroots Enterprise Inc.

    ...

    McCurry is a partner at the influential Washington, D.C. based lobbying firm Public Strategies. In 2006 he has been lobbying on behalf of major network
    • OK, I considered the source, so what? He's someone who wants the internet to work like it works now. Is there something you want to add based on other things he's done?

  • by Oz0ne (13272) on Tuesday August 01, 2006 @04:55PM (#15827617) Homepage
    I posted about it in my blog here: http://www.makesitgood.net/2006/08/01/net-neutrali ty-vs-government-monopolies/ [makesitgood.net]

    The long and short of it, I explain the issues to some of the non savvy, and outline that it's ridiculous, and the real problem is the super wealthy and powerful shoving government around... or rather that the government listens more to the money than to the issues.
  • by freaker_TuC (7632) on Wednesday August 02, 2006 @04:17AM (#15830211) Homepage Journal
    Ask yourself the following question:

    How would the whitehouse and all the government sites feel if they have to pay their extortion fee to be as reachable as they where before through the Internet?

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