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On Entangling and Testing Net Neutrality 185

Posted by Zonk
from the weighty-words dept.
P3titPrince writes "In an NYT op-ed today, Timothy B. Lee argues that legislation specifically guaranteeing Net Neutrality would in fact be less effective than just allowing the status quo." From the article: "It's tempting to believe that government regulation of the Internet would be more consumer-friendly; history and economics suggest otherwise. The reason is simple: a regulated industry has a far larger stake in regulatory decisions than any other group in society. As a result, regulated companies spend lavishly on lobbyists and lawyers and, over time, turn the regulatory process to their advantage. Economists have dubbed this process 'regulatory capture,' and they can point to plenty of examples. The airline industry was a cozy cartel before being deregulated in the 1970's. Today, government regulation of cable television is the primary obstacle to competition." Relatedly, winnabago writes "Computerworld reports on a potential method for testing a net connection for neutrality. Somewhat similar to Traceroute, the software uses spoof packets that appear to be from a potentially throttled source and compares the transmission time to that of neutral traffic."
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On Entangling and Testing Net Neutrality

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  • NN? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by robpoe (578975) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:44PM (#15841646)
    Why has Google bought all the dark fibre that they can? Easy! When telcos start clamping down on 'Net connections, we'll all be on the GoogleNet.

    Net Neutrality problems solved, at least for Google.

    • So, about this GoogleNet...
      Will it be invitation only?
      • Re:NN? (Score:2, Funny)

        by Trigun (685027)
        Google should champion the .web TLD, and create google.web
        Rebuild the net the way they think that it should be. Tie in all services to their brand new .web. Create a gmail address, get a site, a gbuy account, adsense tied to the site, a marker on google maps, the works! Think of the datamining that they could do then!

        Of course, the last time I told them that, they never answered me. Maybe I shouldn't have sworn so much in the email. Telling them to 'fuckin' bury Microsoft' probably didn't add to my id
        • It would also probably have helped if your suggestion made sense. How could creating a new TLD -- which has nothing to do with Quality-Of-Service or TCP/IP itself -- fix anything related to net neutrality?

      • by eln (21727)
        Don't worry, this is Google. Even if it's invite only, within 6 months of the Beta release everyone will have more invites than they know what to do with, and we'll be seeing 50 posts a day on every Web board out there asking if anyone wants an invite to GoogleNet.
      • Oooooh, so close! You forgot to mention that it will be in beta for a long time...
    • Easy... (Score:5, Funny)

      by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:52PM (#15841720) Homepage Journal
      Google is buying all the fiber because of it's well known benefits. Fiber absorbs several times their weight in water, resulting in softer, bulkier stools, which makes it easier for traffic to pass through the colon.

      Anybody who's experiencing problems due to clogged Tubes is well-advised to deploy as much Fiber as possible.

    • Re:NN? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreakNO@SPAMeircom.net> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:05PM (#15841821) Homepage Journal
      When telcos start clamping down on 'Net connections, we'll all be on the GoogleNet.

      This will never happen. Google bought all that dark fiber so they could ferry all their massive internal dataloads from A to B without paying through the nose for it. They made a long term decision and figured it would be cheaper in the long run to have their own transcontinental (G)LAN rather than keep ponying up to the major telcos. Big companies do this.

      Do you think those fibers are still dark? Right now they're probably at full capacity shifting the teraquads of dataload upon dataload upon dataload back and forth between to Google legions of analyists and their analysiers, so they can confirm that, yes indeed, people really do think those ads are search results.
      • Enkido's 768 service is now available in Manhattan, where the company owns 3,500 route miles of optical fiber and is already within 200 feet of anywhere. Enkido's first 768 customer is Deutsche Telecom. ... To clarify, T0 or DS0 is 56Kbps or 64Kbps. T1 is 1.5Mbps and T3 is 45Mbps.
        OC1 is 52Mbps, OC3 155Mbps, OC12 622Mbps, OC48 2.5Gbps, OC192 10Gbps, and OC768 is 40Gbps. Enkido's 768 service, Bob Metcalfe [infoworld.com]

        Now that's what we're talking about it would be like getting a drink out of a firehose hooking your 'pu

      • ...shifting the teraquads of dataload upon dataload upon dataload back and forth...

        After reading that, both I and my PC need to take a dump.

    • That dark fiber doesn't run to your house. Think about it; the evil is all in the last mile.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:45PM (#15841651) Homepage Journal
    Somewhat similar to Traceroute, the software uses spoof packets that appear to be from a potentially throttled source and compares the transmission time to that of neutral traffic.
    This brings forth a very serious issue I haven't seen brought up elsewhere.. if net neutrality does get squashed, how much of a serious crime will something like this be? If we move to a tiered Internet, how many huge companies (and their respective purchased government officials) will cry "fraud" every time someone dares to make a packet appear as though it came from a higher tier? The mind boggles.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      None. In fact it will become VERY BIG if net neutrality goes bad, unstoppable and undetectable by any legal or technical means.
      We will see new "portals". Not the web portals that you think of now, but point to point gateways between
      parts of the globe which are tunnelled through adaptive multi route connections. The adaptive part is the key to this
      and the mentioned software is a vital component. Internet proxies will spring up where traffic basically disappears into them
      to emerge elsewhere. Sure you will hav
    • If they can pay to screw me over, you can bet I'll do my best to screw them over so I don't have to pay.

      Doesn't make it right, but I'd like to see them jail every internet user on the planet when they all do the same thing.
      • Drug war. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @04:14PM (#15842377) Journal
        Doesn't make it right, but I'd like to see them jail every internet user on the planet when they all do the same thing.

        Back in the '60s a lot of people thought the solution to the drug laws was civil disobedience - lots of people buying and using drugs clogging the legal system, forcing the government to throw in the towel.

        You can see how well THAT worked.
  • Ummm... no... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sterno (16320) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:45PM (#15841653) Homepage
    The reason is simple: a regulated industry has a far larger stake in regulatory decisions than any other group in society. As a result, regulated companies spend lavishly on lobbyists and lawyers and, over time, turn the regulatory process to their advantage.

    That's EXACTLY what's already happening. The telecom companies have long been doing this and the whole net neutrality discussion is being prompted by those same telecom companies wanting to loosen the rules (you know, using their lobbyists to get favorable regulation). Further, I would argue that the return on investment from lobbying is so large that any business of sufficient size will invest heavily in lobbyists. They'd be dumb not to.

    Net Neutality needs to happen before we give the telecom companies any more leighway in other areas. The reason is simple. If we do not do this, then if we find that we need to impose it after the fact, they will have already invested billions in business built around the new regulatory structure. At that point, they can legitimately claim it would be expensive and onerous to do it. Today, if we put this regulation in, it doesn't fundamentally change the nature of the network they already have.
    • Re:Ummm... no... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Brew Bird (59050)
      Hello, the NN law we are talking about also puts a freeze on CLASS OF SERVICE, something my customers are screaming they need for thier IPVPNs. Obviously that is NOT on the public internet, but it would seem to make sense, if a carrier is going to invest the money in thier infrastructure to support that for private networks, it should also be available to public networks.

      If you understand how CoS works, you will relize that turning that on a public network will have little or no affect on 99.999% of the hos
      • Re:Ummm... no... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrxak (727974)
        Laws for the sake of laws seems to be all that congress is capable of these days. There are far too many important issues that are being ignored because a few celebrities are making videos and people are listening to FUD on all sides of the issue. I want my government to do something useful, and let the market sort things out.
      • Strange... (Score:3, Informative)

        by sterno (16320)
        I have zero objection to the notion of the carriers tiering their network to expedite services provided that it's provider neutral. That means, if you are going to offer changes that make a VOIP call work better, you have to make it available to everybody, not just your own internal services. What the telecom companies want to do is create a competitive advantage in the IPTV space. If they can force their competition to pay higher rates to provide similar quality of service, then they have an innate adva
        • The network has evolved. Nothing is keeping the carrier's network from continueing to offer best effort service at the same price they have always done.

          CoS is a way of keeping bandwidth prices low, as it allows the carriers to gain better use of edge oversubscription. If they are forced to continue this rediculous growth model of simply building more bandwidth, your going to be seeing some serious price hikes, now that the false competition has gone out of business.

          Lets face it, the folks that undermined th
          • Re:Strange... (Score:3, Informative)

            by sterno (16320)
            However, If ATT wants to compete with vonage by putting a VoIP service on it's own expensive infrastructure, with the added bonus that it WILL work better because they have access to low latency QoS on the ATT network, how is that anti-competative? Vonage still has access to the same infrastructure, if they chose to.


            They have that infrastructure because they have control over the pipe into my home. In most locations the competition for that pipe is, at most, two companies (one for phone and one for cable).
            • Sterno's article and Brew Bird's parent article both have significant technical misunderstandings. First of all, even if there are only two companies providing wire into your house (one telco, one cable), that doesn't mean you only have two ISPs available. The copper wire from the telco may be rented to a DSL provider like Covad or New Edge, who run DSLAMs on it to provide Layer 2 ATM service, or the telco can provide the Layer 2 ATM service, and the layer 2 provider can rent the ATM connectivity to a Lay
          • Re:Strange... (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Qzukk (229616)
            However, If ATT wants to compete with vonage by putting a VoIP service on it's own expensive infrastructure, with the added bonus that it WILL work better because they have access to low latency QoS on the ATT network, how is that anti-competative?

            So do you have a problem with accessing google right now? Vonage? Amazon? If there is no problem, then why would Google, Vonage or Amazon pay for "better" access? You're missing out the strongly implied threat that if Google, Vonage, and Amazon do NOT pay up,
          • Claiming this as a 'reason' for needed net neutrality is like saying people who choose to shell out for a high rise apartment need to wall up thier windows because they have an unfair advanatge over a bum living in an alley!
            Actualy I see it like I'm paying for two one bedroom appartments, but one of the people I'm paying for is living in the High-rise and his expensive lifestyle is forcing the other to be a bum in the alley! If I'm paying for 768K of "best effort" DSL, that's what I want, but what I'll be g
        • Re:Strange... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mrxak (727974)
          I can see the tv ads now "our ISP doesn't slow down VoIP provider X, so switch to our internet tubes today!"

          Provided there are options, things will be just fine. The trick is to make sure the consumer has options. Right now the government has all kinds of barriers to make sure that the only option you have is the one they have given monopoly rights to. That's your problem.
          • Re:Strange... (Score:3, Informative)

            by sterno (16320)
            Provided their options, then yes. The trouble is that with the average house getting service from one or two providers, and those providers controlling so much of the access throughout the country, competition is unrealistic. Odds are in this country you have Comcast cable, and AT&T phone service. Now you might get your internet service from some other company (SpeakEasy, AOL, etc), but in the end, all of it comes over the same set of wires that are owned by one of those two companies.

            So long as that
            • There are a lot of cable comapnies out there [cablelabs.com], plus AT&T and Verizon are both now offering video services. The problem is that each one is restricted for the most part to set regions, and there are lots of hurdles to jump in order to expand your network. You say that competition can only exist if regulation forces it, but it's regulation that's preventing it. There is no competition. Franchising law needs major reform. We don't need more rules.
          • "I can see the tv ads now "our ISP doesn't slow down VoIP provider X, so switch to our internet tubes today!" ... Provided there are options, things will be just fine."

            For heaven's sake, would you stop with this nonsense. This is not about ISPs; this is about carriers! I'm sick of people trotting out this mendacious argument that everything will be fine if we can just switch ISPs. Network Neutrality has little or nothing to do with the last mile. It's all about the backbone carriers, who are proposing to

    • by jdaly (120407) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:56PM (#15841744)
      There has also been some confusion over authorship. Mr. Lee is not to be
      confused with Tim Berners-Lee, Web inventor and NetNeutrality proponent [mit.edu].
      • Thank you for pointing that out. I was really baffled to see him coming out against net neutrality.
      • Even better, check this [mydd.com] out. This Timothy B. Lee guy is apparently also a big supporter of Intelligent Design. Excellent. I think this confirms I'm on the correct side of the issue :)
    • Indeed, the industry is already being regulated; we're just trying to make sure that regulation continues to be favorable to us.

      Now, the best solution is still to either deregulate it entirely (and by that I mean end the agreements that give companies sole access to right -of-way for laying wires, etc.), or to nationalize the lines and let the companies compete to provide service over them. However, either of those would be much harder to accomplish than net neutrality.

      • Re:Ummm... no... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrxak (727974)
        As my previous posts should indicate, I'm very much in favor of cutting down on the regulation. We need to stop the government-created monopolies first, and everything else will follow. If you have a choice of 6 different MSOs for all your telecom needs, there are some very strong market forces against doing anything the customer won't like.
      • I got an idea, we'll just spin-off the infrastucture portion of the businesses; make the companies that provide the local-loop, the back-bone, and the service all sepparte companies and they'll sell access to content/service providers.
  • Obvious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kelz (611260) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:46PM (#15841656)
    These people are just stating the obvious. Very rarely will government regulation have any good effect in the long term; it just slows down innovation and takes years to go away.

    Do YOU trust your congressman [wikipedia.org] to not just create a huge beauracracy, with new laws being stuck on whenever they want to "protect the children/fight terrorism".
    • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrxak (727974)
      Somebody please think of the tubes!

      Seriously, we need to end this madness. I want my congressman to debate real issues, subjects that (hopefully) he knows about. People screaming for net neutrality are completely ignoring the historically proven facts of economics. We do not want people like Ted Stevens running our internet.
    • Who except the big corpos can afford to pay the "premium" bandwidth fees?

      No net neutrality will only make the big telcos rich and small businesses woefully uncompetitive.

      Foreign companies not affected by tiered bandwidth costs will eat our lunch.
      • The government doesn't have to regulate the internet, but they DO have to regulate the telco's. Just tell them NO when they want to set up a teired internet.
      • The "big corpos" can also afford to sue the ISPs into the ground if they try to extort them, and customers getting degraded service can jump to another ISP. That is, if deregulation happens, allowing actual competition.

        It's really quite simple. If you let congress get involved in the internet, then everybody is going to be lobbying congress 100x more than they are now. Things will turn against the public's interest pretty quickly. And quite frankly, I don't trust the government to get it right to begin with
        • De regulation won't allow for more ISP's to happen.

          a) the copper or fiber was all laid by one telco in a certain region.
          b) the telco of that region thus owns all that fiber or copper.
          c) the telco of that region which owns that fiber or copper, can flatly refuse to allow any ISPs on there.
          d) deregulation makes it easier for them to refuse.

          Exactly how does competition happen then?

          BTW Congress isn't entirely inefficient like you claim it is; after the Do Not Call List came into being, my telemarketing calls dw
          • Exactly how does competition happen then?

            Simple, companies lay down their own copper or fiber. Verizon already did it a few towns away from me, as they've been doing around the country. But I'm probably not going to see any of that fiber for another few years. Not because Comcast will say no, but because Verizon has to negotiate with each municipality to get a franchise, a process that can take years.

            Going by your logic, a "no income tax" law would also be "poorly-worded, include all kinds of pork, and

            • Simple, companies lay down their own copper or fiber. Verizon already did it a few towns away from me, as they've been doing around the country.

              Okay. Now *you* set up a company and start doing the same. What? You can't afford it? You don't have the *massive* resources at your disposal that a company like Verizon does? Oh. Hmm... so much for competition, then.

              See, competition ain't competition if it's among, say, 2 or 3 big players who can choose to collude to fuck you up the ass. Welcome to the telec
    • What TFA conveniently fails to point out is that all the players in the telecoms industry are ALREADY regulated. In other words, every problem that is associated with Net Neutrality legislation is already present. Huge bureaucracy? Check. You can even see directly where regulation affects your bill - it's hidden in those emergency fund fees, connection fund fees, access fees and all kinds of others that I forget. Players that have a huge interest in meddling with congress and elected officials? Check. Or wh
      • You know what I'd really like to see? A government-regulated utility that only controls the wires. No service, no nothing. Just pure hardware. And ATT, SBC, Speakeasy, AOL and all the rest can compete on services all day long

        What happens when the copper isn't good enough, or the Coax isn't fast enough and you need fiber? You need the government to upgrade it? Good grief.

        Also, it's a pretty simplified view (some would even call it Ted Stevens-esque) to think that the wires are just tubes that any servi

    • Re:Obvious (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gilroy (155262)
      Exactly. That's why, 30 years after the Clean Air Act, America's skies are in fact worse while the economy tanked.

      Except, oh, wait. That didn't happen. In fact, the skies are vastly cleaner than they've been since the 1950s while the American economy has surged for 24 years with only two minor recessions.

      Despite the mantra "Government can't work", the uncomfortable fact for neo-Friedman anarcho-capitalists is that, in fact, it can. Which is why the conservatives have officially seceded from the "reality
    • Very rarely will government regulation have any good effect in the long term; it just slows down innovation and takes years to go away.

      You mean like Patents and Copyrights?

      Or maybe you mean like Standard Oil Co. or Ma Bell?

      Then again... A lot of innovation came out of Ma Bell.

      But I'd think more innovations happened after its break up. Its not that government regulation hinders innovation, it is the lack of competition that does.

      Sometimes competition needs to be cramed down people's throats with an iron fist
  • by krell (896769) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:50PM (#15841689) Journal
    The net-neutrality legislation might actually make the problem worse. But at least it bans flag-burning, provides federal funding for Air America, declares Feb. 13 to be "National Nathaniel Hawthorne Awareness Day", and pays for 6 years of new shoes for Sen. Harkin! That's what counts the most.
  • As much as I support the idea of Net Nutrality (at least the idea of telecomms not "double dipping" or controling user access to content) that last bit about testing a network for nutrality is interesting to me, I wonder what kind of things you could find out about the state of the "free" internet we wish to protect.

    The more I read the more i begin to realise that maybe market presure will keep the Telecomms honest... I know I wouldn't pay fpr access that didn't let me use services just because they say it
    • Re:That last bit. (Score:4, Informative)

      by mrxak (727974) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:59PM (#15841772)
      Market pressure will keep the MSOs honest, like in any free market. The problem is that with over-regulation being what it is already, we don't have a free market. How many cable providers are in your area? It's not enough to just throw out these net neutrality efforts, but we also need less restrictions on competition. We'd all have a lot more/cheaper bandwidth if it wasn't for franchising laws.
  • The question I have. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by The Living Fractal (162153) <banantarr@NoSPAM.hotmail.com> on Thursday August 03, 2006 @02:54PM (#15841733) Homepage
    Net neutrality. The idea that all content is created (and thusly allowed to traverse the internet) equally. Ok, so I have a couple questions really.

    The first, what happens if encryption makes it impossible to really tell what anything is? How does a non-net-neutral ISP then determine tiered prices for the content? Does encryption effectively enforce Net Neutrality?

    And second, if an ISP wants to charge a customer more because they are simply using the bandwidth or transfer limits which the ISP already sold to the customer, what is this telling us? I mean, if I buy 50 gigs of transfer a month and I use it all, that's ok right? Until all of the suddend everyone is using it all. And then the ISP is saying "wait wait wait, yea we sold you this, but uhm, if you are all going to use it then this isn't going to work". In effect the same as the cell companies when they sell you minutes. If everyone is using their cell phones, your phone is pretty much useless "network busy".

    I mean, what the hell?

    TLF
    • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:14PM (#15841896) Homepage Journal
      For Question 1, the problem isn't so much discriminating based on the content as discriminating based on the sender. That is, if amazon.com has paid the fee and bn.com hasn't, you get faster access to amazon's web site than bn. (Especially if "slower" means "nothing at all".)

      Which could lead to discrimination against content you don't like (e.g. fast access to nra.org, shutting aclu.org to a trickle), but it's site-based, not something you can fix with encryption unless you start talking about fancy stuff like onion routing. Even that doesn't really help, because they could throttle everything except packets directly to their paid providers.

      What guarantees network neutrality is your ability to switch to a neutral ISP if you don't get the access you want. That only works if you have competition among ISPs, which too many people don't.

      For your second question, there's also a notion of using special protocols (quality of service, QoS) to guarantee certain bandwidth between two sites on a site-by-site basis. So if you want to watch a movie in real time, and you want to guarantee that there's at least 1 Mbps available between the sites, the ISPs want to be able to charge you for that guarantee.

      Most ISPs make very little in the way of guarantees to individual users. (High-level providers like the one amazon uses are a different story). Guaranteeing 1 Mbps constantly requires a lot more hardware than they have now, and most of the time that's just fine, because most Internet traffic comes in short burts. It becomes not-fine only when you have a specific requirement, like watching a movie or a VOIP conversation, or a web site that you absolutely must keep running 99.999% of the time or you'll scare away the customers.
      • Thanks for the quick answer.

        About this part: "What guarantees network neutrality is your ability to switch to a neutral ISP if you don't get the access you want. That only works if you have competition among ISPs, which too many people don't."

        So if NN is important enough to people, then a neutral ISP will win market share. But if some ISPs are quasi-NN, i.e. they aren't net neutral but the majority of consumers won't even notice, they will probably win more share and make more money?

        It's an interesting top
        • Broadband service requires rather expensive physical infrastructure in the form of wires or fibers, and access to that will always be somewhat contentious. So there will always be a limited number of ISPs. In rural places, that number may be 1. Even in cities, there will be only a limited number.

          Especially since, as you point out, each is compelled to break neutrality or be forced out by a cheaper company.

          It is an interesting topic. My own personal take is to let the phone and cable companies try breaking
    • The first, what happens if encryption makes it impossible to really tell what anything is? How does a non-net-neutral ISP then determine tiered prices for the content? Does encryption effectively enforce Net Neutrality?

      Encryption just shoots yourself in the foot, since an ISP can just put all encrypted traffic into the lowest-speed or highest-cost tier. So instead of the ISP penalizing VoIP, now they will penalize all your traffic.
    • I'm pretty much a free-market, keep the government's nose the hell outa our business kind of a guy, but it seems to me that the advertising about anything to do with the internet, bandwidth and transfer is pretty much a bald-faced lie and I just don't understand why the FTC doesn't fine a few of those bastards into bankruptcy over false advertising.
  • legislation specifically guaranteeing Net Neutrality would in fact be less effective than just allowing the status quo.

    Right, gotcha. So regulation is evil because regulation can be subverted, and that would end up with ISPs free to do as they liked. While legislating against Net Neutrality would mean that ISPs got to do whatever they wanted too. Only sooner.

    So TFA cleverly recommends a middle road of preserving the status quo, which would leave the ISPs... erm.. free to do whatever they want. Which i

    • So TFA cleverly recommends a middle road of preserving the status quo, which would leave the ISPs... erm.. free to do whatever they want. Which is better. Apparently.

      No, TFA recommends preserving the status quo (which is as good or better than where we are ultimately going to end up) rather than wasting a few billion taxpayer dollars letting the government get involved.
      • No, TFA recommends preserving the status quo

        And did TFA have any ideas on how this was to be achieved, sans legislation?

        I seem to have missed that bit.

        • And did TFA have any ideas on how this was to be achieved, sans legislation?

          The whole quote was
          So TFA cleverly recommends a middle road of preserving the status quo, which would leave the ISPs... erm.. free to do whatever they want.

          We don't need any (new) legislation to allow the ISPs to do whatever they want.
  • Why does network neutrality require a regulatory body? We've had neutrality for a long time with no regulatory body enforcing it.

    First, any individual can check their own connection for neutrality and bring a lawsuit if it is violated. Every law doesn't require a special oversight regulatory organization to monitor it all the time.

    Second, if such a body is required, the FCC is the logical choice. They wrote the current neutrality laws, and they already hold power over the telecom companies. I don't real
    • Picture if you will..

      A couple of swarthy guys in ill-fitting pinstriped suits in the offices of Amazon.com:

      "Gee, Mr. Bezos, it would really be a shame if the response time to your servers was to get SO much worse, but after all, bn.com is paying us to make sure their customers get good response, and the bandwidth they need has to come from SOMEWHERE. Now if you were to make a small contribution to our "infrastructure fund", we can see if there's anything we can do to prevent that..."

      I had a friend who was
    • We've had neutrality for a long time with no regulatory body enforcing it.

      Not so, not at all. In the early days of the internet, the "backbone" of the internet was provided by the Department of Defense and the various non-profits (mostly universities and non-profits) who ran the internet day-to-day embedded "net neutrality" into the basic protocols of the internet.

      When the government decided to turn the backbone over to be run by private firms, the FCC explicitly required net neutrality as a condi

      • Only very recently did the FCC change that rule

        Evidence that we probably shouldn't put the FCC in charge again, since they already dropped the ball once.
        • Evidence that we probably shouldn't put the FCC in charge again, since they already dropped the ball once.

          Well, you are in luck, since the net neutrality legislation doesn't leave the decision in the hands of the FCC in again!

          • since the net neutrality legislation doesn't leave the decision in the hands of the FCC in again!

            The net neutrality legislation? I wasn't aware that any net neutrality legislation had passed congress. In fact, I was pretty sure there hadn't been any. Until a bill is written, discussed, amended, voted on, passed and signed into law there are no guarantees what form it will take. Congress could easily put the FCC back in charge. In fact, I can't imagine who else they would put in charge. The FCC will
  • Yes, when the government intervenes in the economy, it tends to do so in favor of the interests of large corporations, because big business leaders either own the politicians or are the politicians. It should be obvious that this isn't what those campaigning for net neutrality want. We want an Internet where a user can connect to any host just as easily as any other. Servers that get more traffic have to pay for more bandwidth, just like clients that want to transfer more data must buy a faster connection.
    • starting up more neutral ISPs if none exist in an area

      But what if you want to start up an ISP that is not more neutral? What if your purpose in doing so is to woo certain end users that fit a particular business profile or that require a certain type of customer service or payment mechanism? I should be able to start up an ISP as I see fit, and serve those customers that I choose in the manner and at the price that I choose to. My service may turn out to be neutral, or it may not... but it's my service.
  • that the author of this article is this [showmeinstitute.org] Timothy B. Lee, not this [wikipedia.org] one.
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:11PM (#15841872)
    This may be the rational against neutrality:

    From: Rude Awakening [telephonyonline.com]
    Bandwidth commodity trading--or the trading of financial instruments that allow carriers to hedge against future dips or upswings in the price of bandwidth through forward-selling and forward-buying--is indeed stalled, according to Tony Craig, executive chairman of Arbinet-thexchange. "There's no underlying physical delivery model with integrity upon which contracts can be based," Craig said. "That doesn't exist in the bandwidth world."

    Ditching the neutrality model will allow the telcos to make more money based on trading bandwidth and futures. Even more scary:
    From: Making bandwidth a commodity: Reality or just a good idea? [telephonyonline.com]
    One company in the bandwidth exchange arena is Enron Communications, which is trying to recruit support for the model from service providers. Following the lead of its parent company Enron Corp., which helped transform the natural gas and electricity industry into a commodity, Enron Communications is planning to revolutionize the way bandwidth is exchanged.
    While Enron may be out of the picture, an idea they wanted foster must be met with some suspicion...
  • Unlike a one-railroad Western town, most broadband customers can choose between cable and D.S.L., and a growing number have access to wireless options as well.

    ...but of course, since DSL and cable-modem services are (almost universally) sold by publicly-held corporations, and given that public-companies operate on a "monkey-see, monkey-do" level, it seems hard to imagine a scenario where one major provider charging tier prices to media companies would not lead to ALL of them doing it. For the board of dir

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:14PM (#15841898)
    You know, I'm for net neutrality, the way I'm for world peace, ending world hunger, and all that stuff -- in the abstract.

    At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, I'm sure Osama Bin Laden is for world peace, too -- but I doubt when I speak of world peace I envision the same thing. Or rather, if everyone could agree on a common vision of world peace, we'd have achieved it, we do not have world peace precisely because while everyone might claim to be for world peace, everyone has different views on what that means.

    So of course everyone is for net neutrality -- people running around going "Oh noez, big companies are going to take away our freedoms! You're not against freedom, are you?" People running around going "Equality! Neutrality! Freedom!" etc. Of course no one is going to say they're against those things.

    But... how do you expect to legistlate or regulate such things if you can't get a concrete definition?

    Does net neutrality mean that ATM and frame-relay QoS services go away? (I know of some ISPs who bought frame relay circuits with lots of CIR, and of ISPs who bought frame circuits with virtually 0 CIR -- I know whose traffic has priority on the network (to those who think the net today is neutral -- HAH!))

    What about equal access to colocation facilities? Who gets to go in and play with the wires? Be kind of annoying to find out some no-name company registered in another country has 'accidently' attached something to your physical connection... I know of colocations where you can't go without a union guy around, and facilities where techs would refuse to go at night without an armed escort. Someone going to pay for those things for the little guys so everyone is 'equal' and 'neutral'?

    Equal opportunities to build network gear? I mean, should that start up being able to stick in custom gear into a colocation whenever they want, or do we want to have some testing first to make sure it's not going to catch fire?

    Handicap access? Should we treat everyone's network connection the exact same in terms of QoS, or lack of QoS? Should we have 'equal treatment' in a technical sense, or make sure everyone has 'equal access' to services?

    We could just shutdown the Internet completely -- that would be 'equal' and 'net neutral' to everyone. Sort of like Armeggedon would result in world peace after everyone is dead. Certainly satisfies the requirements... right?

    Sure, it benefits folks in more affluent urban areas to suggest opening up the 'last mile' (sic), because perhaps the local governments could afford to maintain the last mile (or half mile, or wireless, etc.) Of course, if someone is living in a rural area (like, say, in the Appalachia, where mountains and valleys make wireless a bit iffy) where the 'last mile' might be more like the last five miles... Well! I suspect in those areas there are phone companies that would be thrilled to dump non-profitable infrastructure maintainenance on small rural governments.

    Let's hash out some *real* policy details -- starting from the hardware, physical network deployments, physical network operations and maintenance, and working our way up. Let's see how long 'everyone' (sic) is for 'net neutrality' (sic). What is it? How will one test for it? How will one measure it? How will one enforce it?

    But, be assured, I am quite for net neutrality, net freedom, and all that stuff. Like world peace. Of course, if I could implement net neutrality the way *I* want it... a lot of you might start the massive whining. For those reasons, I an quite against any legistlation for net neutrality until someone offers a real policy plan -- realistically, the network will never be perfectly neutral. The question is where can we get agreements on what will have to be compromised on (security/reliability of facilities/infrastructure vs. ability to innovate and deploy, emergency services vs. every day use, handicap access vs. 'normal' access, rural low density connectivity vs. urban high density areas vs. access costs vs. maintenance/opex, etc.)

    I don't see much policy, mostly I see whining.

  • Bring on the test! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Valley Redneck (978806) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:21PM (#15841956)
    Talk about being able to punish bad actors. If this research leads to a little GUI desktop app that tells what packets your ISP is throttling and how much, bad actors will have nowhere to hide. Geeks everywhere will blog the offenders into submission, and "Cable Modems w/no throttling!" suddenly becomes a very nice selling point. Wish I could have made it to Black Hat...
    • years ago my son was installing cable tv system's, the pole to pole stuff, not pole to house; well one day he came over and hooked up a state of the art stealth wavemeter to our cable system. It was quite obvious that adelphi was trying to push 850MHz of signal through a 500Mhz coax and the whole system needed a good sweeping just to get the 500MHz to come through to spec rather than good enough that most people don't complain.
  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @03:29PM (#15842021) Homepage Journal

    If Microsoft is the answer to the problem, you did not understand the problem!

    %s/Microsoft/The Goverment/g
  • I happen to agree with the view that more regulation is problematic and ultimately stifling. However, it may be a necessary evil. Constantly maintaining the status quo against lobbyists who are paid top-dollar to push for their employers' views would be difficult. The only way you could avoid it is if you could somehow prevent government from stepping in later on, when the public interest has moved to the next issue and the lobbyists can move in and quietly make changes. Or do you think the corps will j
  • "It's tempting to believe that government regulation of the Internet would be more consumer-friendly; history and economics suggest otherwise."
    And this is all i am going to think and say about such shit that is produced by 'lobby companies' (oh god, what a fantastic name for paid propaganda work) - CRAP.

    PAID crap to FOOL PEOPLE.
  • Bad Analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday August 03, 2006 @05:30PM (#15842916)
    The airline industry was a cozy cartel before being deregulated in the 1970's.

    This is a truly bad comparison. After deregulation new airlines (e.g. People's Express) could get started while previously single-state restricted airlines (e.g. PSA and SouthWest) could expand outside of their state. In fact it took big states like California and Texas just to support a state restricted airline before.

    Afterwards all airlines got relatively equally access to the necessary resources (e.g. airports), and I could choose among a large selection of air carriers for my trip.

    This isn't the same as when there's one coax cable and one copper twisted pair coming to my house. I don't have a good choice of competition in this monopoly market.

    I'll tell you who I am willing to choose however. It will be the first company who brings fiber to my curb at non-extortionaire prices.

    • I'll tell you who I am willing to choose however. It will be the first company who brings fiber to my curb at non-extortionaire prices.

      So very true. I hate Verizon with a passion, but if they can bring FiOS to my house, I'd make a pact with the devil himself to get it.
    • Re:Bad Analogy (Score:3, Informative)

      by pe1chl (90186)
      On the other side of the street here, they get fiber to the home for 50 euro per month (= like 60 USD).
      This includes 10 Mbps up/down Internet access, telephony, and a basic cable TV package (about 30 channels).
      Upgrade to 100 Mbps Internet is also available.

      Would you call that reasonable?

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