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Net Neutrality Being Examined by FTC 176

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the it's-all-about-the-benjamin's dept.
elrendermeister writes to tell us Computerworld Security is reporting that the Federal Trade Commission has formed an Internet Access Task Force to evaluate the validity of claims that large broadband providers should be able to limit or block web content from competitors. From the article: "Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras on Monday also called on lawmakers to be cautious about passing a Net neutrality law, which could prohibit broadband providers such as AT&T Inc. and Comcast Corp. from giving their own Internet content top priority, or from charging Web sites additional fees for faster service. [...] 'While I am sounding cautionary notes about new legislation, let me make clear that if broadband providers engage in anticompetitive conduct, we will not hesitate to act using our existing authority,' she said. 'But I have to say, thus far, proponents of Net neutrality regulation have not come to us to explain where the market is failing or what anticompetitive conduct we should challenge.'"
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Net Neutrality Being Examined by FTC

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  • Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daeg (828071) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:06PM (#15965955)
    Just because the behavior isn't there now doesn't mean that we should put off neutrality legislation until it becomes a problem. The easiest solution to any problem is to fix it now before it becomes a problem.
    • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Durrok (912509) <calltechsucks&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:09PM (#15965970) Homepage Journal
      That is not the way goverment works at all though. Let the issue become a problem, let the problem become over blown, then either:

      1. Wait for an election year if it is an "election topic" (stem cells, flag burning, etc)
      2. Wait for a corporation to give you a large "donation" and then vote however they want you to.
      • by uhlume (597871)
        Wait, when did either of those examples ever become problems, let alone overblown?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Elektroschock (659467)
        The whole net neutrality discussion is a slashback. net neutrality is about codification of status quo. Net neutrality follows an ordo approach, not a regulatory one. The FCC should be the institution that understands NN. But here it is a competition authority which asks the public to explain what 'competition' means.

        The Net will survive the FCC. But I wonder what it all means for the United States as a market place. Software patents, 0DMCA, Patriot Act, and now a clueless FCC. What next? Is the US a safe p
    • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by russ1337 (938915) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:10PM (#15965972)
      I heard someone was developing a Firefox plugin that could detect a 'non-neutral' connection. Once it hits mainstream, providers would probably be reluctant to slow down some 'tubes' for mass phonecalls to tech-support or customer migration to another provider etc.

      So how is that plugin coming along?
      • by bunions (970377)
        The vast majority of the public is barely knowledgeable enough to check their damn email. No significant fraction of the American public is gonna understand or care about net neutrality, much less download some fancy plugin for a browser they never heard of.
        • The vast majority of the public is barely knowledgeable enough to check their damn email.
          You don't need the vast majority of the public. You only need a few people who know what they are doing on each of the big monopoly networks. If they can PROVE that the big guys are engaging in anticompetitive behavior, then let the class actions begin...
      • your non-net-neutral ISP will just block you from downloading that plugin and the game continues
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by GreyPoopon (411036)
          your non-net-neutral ISP will just block you from downloading that plugin and the game continues
          Well, I think that alone would be sufficient proof of anticompetitive behavior. How nice of them to make the task even easier.
      • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Informative)

        by sleeper0 (319432) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @08:50PM (#15966768)
        After researching the subject of "net neutrality" I found that two considerably different definitions of the term are in use.

        The first is the idea of preventing providers from shaping or blocking traffic based on the source or destination corporate entity - ie making google traffic super slow while making msn traffic extra fast. This is obviously troubling and should be subject to oversight. A vast majority of consumer broadband is already subject to regulatory oversight though, either through city franchise agreements or through state PUC's. While I'd support federal laws to curtail this if needed, wouldn't it be better to let the existing structures work if they have the means?

        The second definition was in use heavily by the technical communities that are researching or providing data about net neutrality. This definition includes the first definition but also adds on basically any kind of traffic shaping or port blocking based on protocol or port, irrespective of the public WAN side source or destination. Examples of this are shaping to reduce the network impact of peering systems like bittorrent or other heavy users like NNTP and IPTV, and the policies blocking some services universally inside a tier such as not allowing inbound connections to server ports, outbound PPTP, VOIP over cellular data etc.

        Shame on those technical folks that are trying to substitute the second definition for the first, they should know better. Trying to legislatively micromanage decisions every provider has to make to make for network usability and completely banning all forms of QOS would be a serious mistake. While I'd be pretty upset if i woke up tomorrow and found i was unable to use VPN protocols, I'd rather have to complain to my city about the franchise or switch providers than end up with a situation where washington banned a whole set of core network management technologies that have been in use for decades without which the internet would be much worse off.

        Every study that i saw that included statistics or hard data actually fell under the latter definition and not the former. The reason is that it is relativey easy to detect port blocking and protocols that have different throughput characteristics and examples are fairly common. Trying to programatically detect shaping based on corporate entities or netblocks would be very hard unless it was extremely blatent - what are you going to do, measure connections to thousands of different content providers? Even then how could you tell if the bottleneck was put in place by your edge network or was just due to host side network capacity?

        I'd expect any browser plugin that was built would do the same. While it would be useful to know what blocking and shaping you are subject to, trying to group it under of the umbrella of anti-competitive practices is highly deceptive.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by MrPeach (43671)
          Let's make one thing extremely clear here - when a company markets something called "internet access" and a consumer purchases said service, there is a certain expectation of service. If you are limited to outgoing connections to web addresses, then you don't have an "internet connection" , you have a "web browsing connection".

          If they are marketing and selling one thing and delivering another, we have a problem, and that is why us techno geeks have pushed this definition. Not to force them to make all conne
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Al Dimond (792444)
            Let's make one thing extremely clear here - when a company markets something called "internet access" and a consumer purchases said service, there is a certain expectation of service. If you are limited to outgoing connections to web addresses, then you don't have an "internet connection" , you have a "web browsing connection".

            Yes. I had an ISP once that did that. I was in an apartment building that contracted to get a good deal on Internet service for the building (it wound up not being a good deal, b
            • by jaymzter (452402)
              Welcome to Verizon's version of FIOS. I had just moved and found out they had FIOS in my area, for a price that made cable look like highway robbery (which it is). Then in conversation with some friends I found out that Verizon doesn't allow *any* inbound connections to their FIOS customers. Basically you are just a content consumer and forfeit the ability to produce anything for the Internet or access your systems remotely using their network. I called them and they verified that they block all inbound por
          • If they want to create different classes/speeds/whatever of internet service, they have to clearly differentiate them so people will know what they are getting. They need to be upfront and honest.

            But new laws aren't needed for this as there already are laws on the books about truth in advertizing. Such as the lemon laws many states have. People need to use the tools already available not create new ones.

            So do we have an internet whose structure is robust and determined by technical considerations o

        • The thing is, the two can effectively become the same. For instance, blocking the Skype protocol would be just as effective, if not more effective, than blocking Skype.com.

          Anyway, nothing about Net Neutrality (either definition you mention) prevents me from doing my own QoS. All it does is make it so my ISP cannot do it for me, without my knowledge or consent -- which is fair.

          Or are you assuming that it's a legitimate business practice to sell 20x the bandwidth you actually have, by calling it "burst band
          • by BVis (267028)

            The thing is, the two can effectively become the same. For instance, blocking the Skype protocol would be just as effective, if not more effective, than blocking Skype.com

            I disagree, and I'll tell you why: If an ISP wants to block traffic to its customers on a specific port, it's lousy, and deceptive, and their customers shouldn't stand for it, but it isn't anti-competitive so long as it's applied globally. For example, if, let's say, Verizon decided to block all VoIP traffic because it bit into their P

            • The thing is, the two can effectively become the same. For instance, blocking the Skype protocol would be just as effective, if not more effective, than blocking Skype.com

              I disagree, and I'll tell you why: If an ISP wants to block traffic to its customers on a specific port, it's lousy, and deceptive, and their customers shouldn't stand for it, but it isn't anti-competitive so long as it's applied globally.

              Not true when a particular port is often for one company. I don't know if this is true with my Sk

              • by BVis (267028)
                My example was a bit simplistic in that it assumed that everyone who's in a given business providing a given service does so over the same known port. Clearly that isn't the case for a good part of the services in question.

                I guess the way they'd do it is to look up all the IP blocks registered to a given company like Skype etc. and create QoS rules based on those IPs rather than the ports they use. That information IIRC is freely available. The injured party might have an easier time proving QoS shenanig
    • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:32PM (#15966115)
      The FTC is largely anti-neutrality. The "there's no problem yet" attitude will, once the problem exists, likely be replaced with a "the problem doesn't justify the disruption that forcing companies to change established practices" stance once problems emerge (unless FTC members are replaced, first.)

      Of course, taking action before there was a problem would avoid the disruption, but the FTC is on the side of the people who stand to benefit from the "problems" that would be prevented.
      • Of course, taking action before there was a problem would avoid the disruption, but the FTC is on the side of the people who stand to benefit from the "problems" that would be prevented.

        While I support the precautionary principal [cnn.com] in some instances I don't see a need for it when dealing with net neutrality. I have yet to see one instance of a problem regarding it. If you want to apply the precautionary principal then start with something like say automobiles. Because of the number of injuries and dea

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515)
      No, that's the easiest way to tyranny.
    • by russ1337 (938915)
      If my memory serves me correctly the behaviour is exactly there now.
      I vaugly remember my network protocol class lecturer saying that the TCP/IP has a priority flag within it, and he said to never set it to anything other than 'high', otherwise your traffic will not get through as most network routers are set to drop low-priority traffic.

      So IMO, if we 'lose' net neutrality, you either have to pay the high price for all your traffic, or your stuffed. But the IPS's know this, and that is exactly their model.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fordiman (689627)
        I dunno, but the chairwoman's reasoning is inherently flawed.

        It's not about paying for faster connections; it's about paying for more _reliable_ connections. For example, if, say, Verizon's VoIP has a higher priority than, say, Skype's, your Skype call will skip, as the packets will have a harder time being routed (They'll have to wait in line at the router until it deigns to pass it along).

        Which, of course, brings us to the nub of the matter: Mr. Stevens, being an apparently paid and scripted actor for th
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by russ1337 (938915)
          Are you implying internet traffic is unreliable now, and will be 'cured' by a non-neutral net?

          The only reason I can see the internet traffic being unreliable is because the ISP's sell more bandwidth than they actually have. Now that people use the bandwidth they paid for, the ISP's infrastructure is strained and they need a way out. Its a choice of upgrading their infrastructure, or somehow forcing people to use less, or prioritizing "important" traffic.... They are too cheap to do the first cos it will
          • by Fred_A (10934)

            The only reason I can see the internet traffic being unreliable is because the ISP's sell more bandwidth than they actually have.

            Which is of course a very sensible way to do things (within limits) given that the Internet is built on packet switching technology.

            This whole thing is just basic business 101 current style. Never look further than your next board meeting (therefore investments that havent shown measurable results by then are useless), always grow (because it's what's expected even though when

          • by Fordiman (689627)
            Not at all.

            The net is presently de-facto neutral, i.e., the telcos do not prioritize TCP/IP traffic, aside from the base prio flag in packets (which are ubiquitously set to 'high'). As such, even when 'the tubes are clogged', all packets get through a given router at roughly equal rates.

            Meanwhile, if the telcos quash NN as they intend, they plan to offer prioritized services, thus slowing down or even stopping the travel of non-prioritized packets at their routers (if the people paying for High-prio servic
        • by jc42 (318812)
          How long do you think it will be before filesharing clients start overriding port 25 for the purpose of dumping on massive amounts of content (massive amounts of content)?

          In a fairly real sense, that's how online sharing started. Look up "uuencode" and "shar". Those are encodings from back in the 1980s whose primary purpose was encoding material so that it could be easily shared via email. The reason for doing this was that email was usually the most reliable way to get large files across, due to its "sto
    • Re:Just because... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arodland (127775) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @07:39PM (#15966458)
      Just because the behavior isn't there now doesn't mean that we should put off neutrality legislation until it becomes a problem. The easiest solution to any problem is to fix it now before it becomes a problem.

      No, it's not! The role of government is not to preemptively pass legislation against anything that might conceivably hurt someone. We have fair trade and "anti-trust" statutes on the books, with the ostensible purpose of preventing businesses from abusing monopoly powers to hurt their customers. We have a common law system in which, if someone performs some unjust action that injures you, you can be compensated for it. The notion that government should be there to protect you against any potential wrong by means of legislation is a very dangerous idea, and it's fostered by people who have their hands on some government power, and realize that they can gain even more power by expanding the scope of the government's responsibility.

      Need more to work with? Okay, this is Slashdot. We complain a lot about the TSA, right? How they put forth these regulations that are not only inconvenient, but actually useless at achieving their stated goals, right? But they do it to give the appearance of solving a problem. That's what the hypothetical "net neutrality commission" would be doing. Creating and enforcing regulations on the actions of internet carriers. They won't be beneficial to the providers, because of course the burden of proof will be placed on them to show that they're not doing anything "wrong". And they won't be beneficial to customers either, first because the system will be easily manipulated (this is gubmint, remember?), and second because the providers will demand additional fees to cover their new responsibilities. In fact, it won't benefit anyone, besides the "only fit for government work" people who will get jobs out of it. But it will make a vocal minority happy and give the appearance of "getting something done". It will convince daeg that they're "fixing it now beore it becomes a problem".

      Sound like a good deal?
      • Net neutrality follows an ordoliberal approach. It is not about 'regulation' at all. The libertarian argument by the lobby is silly. Telcom providers are regulated like hell. The Internet is a regulation paradise compared to other services, that is why other networks go IP. The internet is based on net neutrality. Now that other services migrate to IP networks a regulatory nightmare would be telcom regulation imposed on the net. The infringement of the net neutrality principle transforms the net into someth
        • by arodland (127775)
          I'm sorry, was that generated by MegaHAL? I couldn't find any string of more than three words at a time that made sense together, let alone any sort of coherent thought. Google doesn't have a clue what "Ordo-Policy" is supposed to mean. And the bits and pieces that I can gather from your argument seem to be in agreement with my point of view -- additional regulation isn't necessary to maintain what's already a natural state. So... where are squirrel and moose? Whoops, wrong question. Where's the point?
          • He was trying to make the point that the internet became what it is today because it was unregulated and untampered with, and now large telco's are trying to tamper with it in the same way the government tampers with telcos.

            The concept of net neutrality is not really a regulation as an "anti-regulation" law, which basically states that weather youre the state or a private interest with monopoly powers rivaling the state, you are not allowed to cause discrimination against specific traffic on the internet.

            It
            • by jc42 (318812)
              He was trying to make the point that the internet became what it is today because it was unregulated and untampered with, ...

              This is a rather bizarre take on how the internet was developed. Almost all the development before 1990 or so was done with US government (military) funding. The funding contracts said a lot about how it was to be used. Go find the contracts and read them.

              Now, granted, the DoD was primarily interested in funding all those academic geeks to build a comm system that had capabilities;
              • This is a rather bizarre take on how the internet was developed. Almost all the development before 1990 or so was done with US government (military) funding.

                Engineers do not care who pays for the party. In fact it was a tiny project. Not "military had a vision and planned the creation of the net". Rather: military paid the party and engineers performed their task. Nothing in internet regulation and procedures and way of conduct follows military organisational thinking.

                When it comes to the Internet the payin
          • Read Walter Eucken.

            Ordo means the governmental task is to provide the political framework for economic freedom.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        The government IS indeed there to protect citizens preemptively BEFORE something bad happens to them.

        This is why you have an army, everstanding, to meet any foreign attacks, to intervene before the attack occurs and reaches your mainland.

        This is where child abuse, protection laws and so on are put forth, in order to prevent abuse before it happens.

        Same goes with network neutrality.

        Handing over free speech to a few corporations so that they might be able to curb it once it does not fit their need
        • Its similar to saying "lets allow passing of laws that allow the president to assume dictatorial powers. If something bad happens, we can fix it later".

          Passing laws is like granting one's self dictatorial powers. Mnay new laws restricts liberty and promotes a dictartorship. Now it might be different if all proposed laws or bills were put up on the net so anyone and everyone could read them, and they are written so that you didn't have to be a lawyer to understand them, in a timely fashion and vote fo

    • Just because the behavior isn't there now doesn't mean that we should put off neutrality legislation until it becomes a problem. The easiest solution to any problem is to fix it now before it becomes a problem.

      With legislation, I disagree. Laws are always compromises: you win some (hopefully whatever it was you wanted to legislate), you lose some (often other rights). Also, having a clear and short legal code is a very good thing -- there are a lot of laws we could be making up 'just in case'.

      New legis

    • It's already a problem. Ever try to run your own mail and web servers from home? It's ridiculous that I have to pay $80/month for a 'commercial class' line to do these things, as an individual where it's normally more like $20. Unfortunately, I'm not about to give up the flexibility that running my own servers affords me, so I have to pay it or move to a colo where I'll have less control and flexibility.
    • The easiest solution to any problem is to fix it now before it becomes a problem.

      Does this mean that since politics is a problem we should get rid of politiics?

      Falcon
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The two main anticompetitive problems with "lack of net neutrality" are that in many places people have a restricted choice of broadband suppliers, and that an ISP may say "up to 4 megabits!" when connections with servers which haven't paid for premium access cannot hope to reach that top speed. My opinion on the first problem is, it's self-resolving, since we're beginning to see some good competition between broadband providers. The second problem, on the other hand, is IMO a legitimate concern, and that
  • by flyingace (162593) * on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:12PM (#15965988) Journal
    "Net neutrality" will be pass, as lawmakers would not want to appear "not-neutral". On the other hand if the bill was called, "internet expedited service" bill, lawmakers will feel whole lot differently about it.

    Just my 2 cents and hunch
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by legoburner (702695)
      I dont know... lawmakers have their series of tubes [youtube.com]. In their minds neutral tubes might get contaminated with porn or other bad data, so surely dedicated, premium tubes would be much better. Common sense does not seem to apply to about 10% of lawmakers, yay democracy ^_^
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Firehed (942385)
        10%? I detect an error by about an order of magnitude here. Especially since the porn industry would be the first to pay for premium QoS.
  • by x3nos (773066) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:22PM (#15966047)

    'While I am sounding cautionary notes about new legislation, let me make clear that if broadband providers engage in anticompetitive conduct, we will not hesitate to act using our existing authority,' she said. 'But I have to say, thus far, proponents of Net neutrality regulation have not come to us to explain where the market is failing or what anticompetitive conduct we should challenge.'

    Since when did the FTC all the sudden start taking this anti-legislation stance? So they will only legislate issues after-the-fact? Let Comcast, Verizon, AT&T bully the market, then we will see if we decide to do anything about it . . . right!

    The thing that net neutrality proponents are proposing is resistance to current talks of creating a tiered internet:

    "In essence, network neutrality regulations proposed by Senators Snowe and Dorgan[4] and Representative Markey bar ISPs from offering Quality of Service enhancements for a fee.
    --From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    • by megaditto (982598)
      This should be something like

      "In essence, network neutrality regulations proposed by Senators Snowe and Dorgan[4] and Representative Markey bar ISPs from offering [source-prejudiced] Quality of Service enhancements for a fee.
      --From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

      QoS would not be made illegal, but selectively restricting QoS based on where the connection originates would be.

      However I would predict all the attempts to enforce net neutrality will fail: the public will not see why it would be wrong to offer faster

    • by RexRhino (769423)
      Since when did the FTC all the sudden start taking this anti-legislation stance? So they will only legislate issues after-the-fact?

      Seeing as the FTC is a part of the executive branch of government, they have no buisness legislating anything - before the fact, after the fact, or because of the fact. If you remember your grade school civics class, making laws is the job of congress. I know people love the idea of dictatorship and centralized authority, but until the president officially dissolves congress, we
    • by kalirion (728907)
      'But I have to say, thus far, proponents of Net neutrality regulation have not come to us to explain where the market is failing or what anticompetitive conduct we should challenge.'

      Translation: "But I have to say, thus far, proponents of Net neutrality regulation have not come to us with bigger bribes than the opponents of Net neutrality regulation."
  • ...but I really do hope that if Net Neutrality passes, that Google creates a nationwide free wireless network to combat it. Now I'm not saying that one monopoly is better than the other, I just like watching cable companies get F****d.
    • I just like watching cable companies get F****d.

      I like it more when telcos get screwed, especially for essentially charging 8 times as much as cable due to the difference in bandwidth between your $50 cable connection and a $50 DSL connection.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:35PM (#15966127) Homepage Journal
    For me, the depressing part is "If broadband providers engage in anticompetitive conduct, we will not hesitate to act using our existing authority." I'm a free-market libertarian type much of the time, and my first thought on Net Neutrality is to exactly that: let them try breaking it and seeing if it the market wants it.

    But the FTC's version of "not hesitating" is to establish a blue-ribbon panel to look into setting up a commission to investigate the idea of setting up a web site to solicit people's opinions. Even if I trust the FTC to be acting in good faith, I worry that the cable/telco providers would have somewhere between one and five years to stomp certain web sites to death before the FTC is able to act on their "existing authority".

    I mean, how long has Microsoft been in antitrust litigation?
    • by rolfwind (528248)
      The majority of the market cannot choose, as there is often only 1 or 2 choices for broadband, if that many. Plus, I consider it fraud if they advertise broadband internet, and decide to serve you their exclusive subset at a much higher speed. People signed and are already paying for the internet, not VerizonNet(TM). Ah, double dipping at it's finest.

      AOL already tried to nicely sandbox the internet, it's not what people want nor pay for unless they have no other choice.
  • by mpapet (761907) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:37PM (#15966140) Homepage
    Every time I see some ministry talking head say things like, "if there's a crime we'll prosecute!"

    1. Crime? what crime? You mean rapid delivery of internet service is a crime?
    2. Crime? What crime? The boss says put it on the back burner...
    3. Crime? No it's "market forces" delivering "better" service.

    And then there's the "swift" justice delivered in Microsoft's Monopoly conviction. A conviction is cold comfort if you're one of the guys they ran out of business.

    Oh yeah, they are on the case...
  • Simple Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Desert Raven (52125) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:45PM (#15966186)
    In my opinion, the solution is simple.

    Any carrier that wants to restrict access loses their common carrier status. The providers are probably right to say they have the right to control their own networks. However, the minute they start controlling content, they should take responsibility for it. Common carrier status is all about not being responsible for/controlling what goes over the wires.

    I'm willing to bet if the FCC said "go ahead, but you lose common carrier status" none of us would ever hear another word about this.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)
      Sounds good, but I think they should do it retroactively, without warning the companies first. I'd love to see the news headlines when MegaTelco Inc. gets prosecuted for carrying child porn and their executives are held personally liable and end up going to prison.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gilroy (155262)
        Blockquoth the poster:

        I'd love to see the news headlines when MegaTelco Inc. gets prosecuted for carrying child porn and their executives are held personally liable and end up going to prison.

        That makes for good theater but bad law. You can't have secret laws in a free society; everything had to be out in the open. (I know, I know -- it's possible to bury a law so that no one knows it's there. Possible but sleazy.)

        The point of a law like this would be to preserve net neutrality, not to punish people afte

  • Open your eyes.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by himurabattousai (985656) <gigabytousai@gmail.com> on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:58PM (#15966245)
    "While I am sounding cautionary notes about new legislation, let me make clear that if broadband providers engage in anticompetitive conduct, we will not hesitate to act using our existing authority," she (Chairwoman Majoras) said. "But I have to say, thus far, proponents of Net neutrality regulation have not come to us to explain where the market is failing or what anticompetitive conduct we should challenge."

    I suppose something can't fail if it doesn't exist. "The market" only exists if there's a real choice of options, and when it comes to the U.S. version of broadband internet, "the market" has never existed on a meaningful scale. The choice is between either DSL from the bell-affiliated telco (which itself is most likely a monopoly) or cable from the likes of Comcast (or some other similar monopolistic cable TV company) or no higher speed access at all, with some places not even having both DSL or cable to choose from. That is not "the market" in the sense that Chairwoman Majoras would like to seem to be talking about.

    If the comments of Chariwoman Majoras are to be believed, we should soon see the government investigating behavior itself has allowed. That would be rather interesting, and I'd tune in to see the feds stumble over their tongues trying to legitimately explain why having so few real choices in paid TV service/broadband service/land line phone service benefits me. I'd like to see why the companies that provide these services are so damn sacred that their acts can't even be challenged. I want to know why it is that government-funded and supported companies are allowed to even think that they have the right to tell me what sources of information I can and cannot seek. That, more than anything, is how I view the debate.

  • by GnuTzu (892111) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @06:59PM (#15966252)

    Hey Government!

    If there must be a Tiered Internet (and I fear we won't have a choice), then:

    1. We'd like a public standard for the protocols involved.
    2. We don't want corporations mucking up the standards with proprietary sneakiness.
    3. We don't want proprietary sneakiness protected by the DMCA or some other Corporate biased regulation.

    Oh yes; the DMCA will become a big part of this.

    The quality of the Free Market is not measured by how easy it is for Corporations to regulate the market.
    The quality of the Free Market is a matter of the diversity of choices that are available to consumers.

    I have no problem with a Tiered Internet that gives us more choices;
    I have a problem with anything that allows Corporations to reduce the number of choices;
    especially, if they gain control of the regulatory agencies.

    Here comes the New FCC.

  • While I am sounding cautionary notes about new legislation, let me make clear that if broadband providers engage in anticompetitive conduct, we will not hesitate to act using our existing authority,' she said. 'But I have to say, thus far, proponents of Net neutrality regulation have not come to us to explain where the market is failing or what anticompetitive conduct we should challenge.'

    This is the internet equivalent of:

    We're going to take away your civil liberties, and if you want them back the burden o
  • let me make clear that if broadband providers engage in anticompetitive conduct, we will not hesitate to act using our existing authority,

    Why do we have to wait until we're actually screwed, then through years of hearings about possible remedies, followed by half-assed fixes and coupons for new services we don't want, while the lawyers are paid in real millions of dollars? Why not just preempt it from happening in the first place?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Okay, before I even bother with listening to arguments for or against 'net neutrality', or a 'tiered internet', or even more such nonsense on either side:

    What, exactly, *is* the 'Internet'?

    Seriously. Is it just a collection of computers? A specific network protocol? Are we going to get into the last mile issue? Are the users part of the 'Internet' (sic)? What about the copper/fiber/colocation facilities? Peering points? Are private agreements part of the Internet or not?

    Like 'world peace' I doubt we
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Digital Vomit (891734)
      What, exactly, *is* the 'Internet'?

      Apparently it's a series of tubes.

      Or so I hear.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Chirs (87576)

      From my perspective as a tech-savvy end-user, "the internet" is the whole of the accessable IP address space.

      The point of an "Internet Service Provider" is to give me an IP address and the ability to exchange IP packets to any other IP address, at the rate advertised by my ISP (possibly limited by the rate advertised by *their* ISP), with reasonable uptime, latency and frequency of dropped/delayed packets.

      That's it.

      Now, if you're a large business things get more complicated. You want to have much tighter d
  • Yeah, because the FTC has so aggressively reined in the telcos [google.com] when they've acted anticompetitively.
    • And therein lies why I say Ma Bell should never have been broken up to begin with. Everybody ended up paying more for less service and less reliability than ever before. Shit, in Portland, Verizon can't even make the dialtone turn on 9 tries out of 10 today, and it costs twice as much for Verizon to not serve me now as it did for Pacific Northwest Bell to actually serve me 15 years ago.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        If AT&T weren't broken up, we'd pay even more for even less service. There wouldn't be redundant Internet backbone competition. By breaking up into Baby Bells, each with regional monopolies, they introduced competition into only long distance, which sees much lower prices with at least comparable service, but smaller regional monopolies with worse service. Now that we're close to a Verizon/AT&T duopoly under the sleepy eye of the FTC, service has dropped again. The only competition driving increased
  • There has been so many letter and emails thrown out about so many things that falls on deaf ears in the U.S. (or even state and local fits in this group as well) Beauracracy that they can say whatever they want. The letters that would have gotten to HIM have been lost somewhere. Maybe not even lost, just flat out ignored. If there aren't greenbacks accompanying a letter, they could care less.

    I know for a FACT that the FTC was informed about many things that were concerns about the SBC/AT&T and MCI/Ve
  • by melted (227442) on Wednesday August 23, 2006 @09:06PM (#15966848) Homepage
    This is all about VOIP, folks. Telcos try to stop VoIP it's plain and simple. It's not Google or Yahoo who's the target here, not even Youtube. Those companies won't be screwed much if their traffic was deprioritized by a little. VoIP on the other hand becomes unusable the second you deprioritize its realtime traffic. So telcos think they can keep their cell, landline and voip customers to themselves by deprioritizing traffic of other VoIP companies or making them pay through the nose (thereby making their rates less competitive).
    • A little background - the Comm Act of 1996 granted CLEC's the right to use the facilities of the ILEC's for offering telecom services. The telco's recently persuaded congress to rescind that regulation for newly developed high speed access. Shortly there-after, we started hearing about Google, et al freeloading on the Telco's.

      What the Telco's want to do is to sell video content - provide VDSL service at a loss and make it up in profit on the video content. If Google has the same access to the consumers a

  • Kill Skype (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I have a friend who works with a large telco, also a large backhaul provider, and they would love to deprioritize skype.

    It's obvious the telcos want to protect their phone line revenues, which would exactly be illegal monopolistic behavior (use one monopoly to protect/extend another).
  • At that point, they're just another AOL. They're not a real ISP anymore. ISP's charge the consumer for access. There are many models for this - by time (minute, hour, etc.), by bandwidth (KB, MB, GB, etc.) that offer viable models. What isn't viable is saying, "Oh, you can't look at that...it's not on our network."

    This isn't allowed by phone companies. Since when does Bell South get to tell you that you can't call a Verizon customer? It's simply unaccepable. I fail to see why this is being permitted
  • I fully understand why people are against a neutrality law.

    net neutrality is essentially acting upon the same principles as the DMCA.. it's trying to "keep things the way they are".

    The problem is that, just like the DMCA, it's going about it the wrong way, it's trying to prevent the activity rather than change the (somewhat reasonable) motivations which precipitate the activity..

    Rather than passing a law to try to prevent companies from acting in what they believe is their interests, they should be bringing

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