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Comment: Re:Waiving data charges is fine with net neutralit (Score 1) 115

by dgatwood (#48479757) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

It does violate net neutrality, because it affects the cost of delivery of data to and from the end user.

But it doesn't. The cost is still the same, regardless of who is paying it. What it does is shift the burden, at the request of one of the parties. That's not the same as shifting the burden at the request of someone who isn't a party to the communication (your ISP). And changing the cost of the communication isn't really any different from changing the cost of the content. If Apple (for example) chooses to pay your bandwidth bill for downloading a movie, they could lower the cost of the movie by a few bucks and it would have exactly the same effect on the customer in practice. In fact, they would probably be better served by lowering the price, because customers see the price of the movie, and probably pay for their bandwidth bill using auto-debit. :-)

Either way, the TCP/IP equivalent of toll-free calling certainly isn't in the same category of wrongness as your ISP limiting the rate of traffic in a way that makes your communication impossible or impractical, and the reason most of us want net neutrality is to prevent that sort of abuse, not to prevent any slight distortion of pricing.

Comment: Re:Waiving data charges is fine with net neutralit (Score 1) 115

by dgatwood (#48479683) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

They want all destinations to be equal

No - they want all internet connections to be paid for according to last-hop bandwidth to their endpoint and to work according to the standardized protocols of the internet when sending/recieving data to other destinations from that link, and for any other business related decisions concerning traffic to occur according to those same principles

Which is precisely the same thing as saying that traffic priority should not be dependent upon endpoint—i.e. that all destinations are treated equally—but with about forty-two extra words.

Firstly it's not about content delivery companies at all. It's about network operators, and network link pricing. Period.

Network operators are a pipe to content providers, so any definition of net neutrality that ignores the content providers is fundamentally missing the whole point of the network. The purpose of net neutrality is to ensure that your link provider cannot artificially distort traffic in a way that makes it impractical to use arbitrary services, forcing you to the services of their choosing. Manipulating network link pricing is just one mechanism for distorting traffic, and is quite possibly the least interesting, least effective way to do so.

And yes, when 'the tools at their disposal' include bandwidth tiering (free vs non-free) in an effort to distort end user preferences towards their internet-based service, and thereby shift the fundamental usage of the internet itself (away from free, open standards p2p protocols and towards proprietary 'walled-garden' services), this is, in fact, not a neutral practice, and is in fact a problem.

Your argument is illogical. There is no difference between a content provider paying for the user's data usage and lowering the price of the content provider's service by enough money that the user can pay for a connection with a higher data cap on his or her own. Thus, paying for the user's usage does not violate any fundamentally sound concept of net neutrality in any meaningful way. Admittedly, in the case of Wikipedia, they're taking it one step farther and charging a negative fee for their service, which is a little odd, but if that's the way they want to spend their donations, so be it.

Now taken to the extreme—unusably low data caps combined with provider-paid exceptions—could potentially be a net neutrality issue, if only because it would be harmful to free content providers. However, that scenario is pretty darn unlikely. There are too many dozens of free, moderately high-traffic content providers for that to happen in the foreseeable future. If that changes—if all the world's websites consolidated themselves into just a handful of server farms—then it would make sense to reevaluate things. Unless and until that happens, however, it makes little sense to create laws in an attempt to prevent problems that are purely hypothetical. Doing so adds extra regulatory burden without solving actual problems, and worse, gives businesses more time to look for ways around those regulations, ensuring that by the time they are actually needed, they don't work.

And more importantly, none of the proposed solutions for net neutrality that I've seen would prevent this sort of "collect calling" anyway.

Comment: Re:This seems different (Score 1) 115

by dgatwood (#48473719) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

The thing is, every company could do those things if they want to. Individuals could do so if they wanted to. It's no different than having a 1-800 number. You pay so that the person calling you doesn't. There's no neutrality violation there; if anything, it improves net neutrality by providing a reasonably priced mechanism for allowing other companies to be on equal footing with Comcast, who almost certainly does not charge their customers for the use of their own, in-house video-on-demand service. You might reasonably argue, however, that it does so only if the cost of said toll-free service is regulated.

Comment: Re:Waiving data charges is fine with net neutralit (Score 2, Insightful) 115

by dgatwood (#48473687) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

Yeah, but nobody talking about net neutrality wants all packets to be equal. They want all destinations to be equal, i.e. they want traffic from Netflix to have roughly the same likelihood of reaching its destination as traffic from the cable company's VOD service.

Subsidizing traffic doesn't violate net neutrality, because it doesn't affect the delivery of data, only the cost to the end user. Even if the Internet were regulated in precisely the same way as telephone, subsidized traffic would still be allowed, because it is fundamentally no different than a 1-800 number or a collect call.

So using that as an excuse to argue against net neutrality represents a very fundamental misunderstanding about what net neutrality is about. It isn't about preventing content delivery companies from using the tools at their disposal to deliver content better and faster; it's primarily about preventing content delivery companies who also own last-mile infrastructure from having an unfair competitive advantage over content delivery companies that don't.

Comment: All Good Laws Have Costs (Score 4, Insightful) 115

by Bob9113 (#48473659) Attached to: Wikipedia's "Complicated" Relationship With Net Neutrality

Every good law has counterpoints. Traffic signals prevent me from driving through the intersection even when there are no other cars there. Assault laws mean you can't punch someone who talks on their phone at the movies. The right to a trial means we can't just execute people we know are guilty.

One of the other examples I've been hearing lately is about Citizen's United. They say overturning it or passing contradictory legislation could hamper Steven Colbert, or limit the ACLU or EFF. Well, yes, it might. But that would be better, overall, than what we have now.

The goal is not to have laws that capture every nuance. Government is a blunt weapon that must operate in a non-discriminatory fashion. Special cases exist that show the friction in every law. The objective is not for every special case to be efficient, but for the law overall to be efficient.

Last mile providers colluding with incumbents to provide preferential access to consumers harms competition in content. Competition is good in the long run, even for the things we like that may appear to be harmed in the short run. There are natural limitations to competition on carriage, we should not extend those competition limitations to making discriminatory deals with content providers.

Comment: Re: Mass produce! (Score 1) 188

by HiThere (#48470947) Attached to: Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

FWIW, if you have enough energy then synthetic gasoline can be manufactured. It's not the most efficient of processes, however. Using it for fuel would probably be unwise. (I think electric cars would work out better.) But you can also build lubricants.

Mind you, this process doesn't sound efficient enough to make the process practical.

Comment: Re:Money how? (Score 1) 118

by MightyMartian (#48470551) Attached to: BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

If Microsoft, with orders of a magnitude more cash available to burn is finding it almost impossible to break the Android-iOS duopoly, I'm thinking BB's chances of making a comeback sufficient to create a third player in the market are somewhat on the same order of a extrasolar comet flying into the solar system, slingshoting around Jupiter, hooking off Neptune, doing four orbits of the sun before being captured for three orbits by Saturn, being flung at Earth, breaking up under the Moon's gravitational pull and a one inch piece flying to earth severing John Chen's left testicle as he takes a leak.

Comment: Re:Bah hah hah (Score 1) 118

by MightyMartian (#48470469) Attached to: BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550


Our staff's Android and iOS devices all hook into Exchange and can use its address book, all via SSL connections. Maybe BB is a bit more feature rich, but having to run BES as an integrator between BB devices and an Exchange server is a resource-hungry pain in the ass. ActiveSync does the job well enough.

Comment: Re:Not enough (Score 3, Insightful) 118

by MightyMartian (#48470445) Attached to: BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

They're thinking "Hmmm, do we hand this mountain of cash we're still sitting on back to the shareholders and close up shop, or do we spend that cash frivolously on doomed loss leaders schemes and executive salaries?"

I think you can probably guess at the answer. But really, anyone still holding BB stock at this point is staking more of a religious position than a business one. Anyone with any interest in meaningfully profitable investment strategies dumped BB a long time ago.

The next stage, I'm presuming, is for BlackBerry to turn into SCO and start trying to extort license fees from Android manufacturers and Apple.

Comment: Re:Money how? (Score 3, Insightful) 118

by MightyMartian (#48470425) Attached to: BlackBerry Will Buy Your iPhone For $550

They have virtually no sales, but a huge amount of cash from their halcyon days. Rather than simply hand that money back to investors and close shop, they've decided that a "flush it all down the toilet" strategy is in order.

I get that they're trying to do the loss leader game, but if this is successful, BB will be out of pocket a heap load of cash with little immediate benefit. If it isn't successful, then the stunt demonstrates they're fate is to be a bit player with a niche in keyboard smartphones, and no hopes of ever taking on Android and iOS devices.

Algol-60 surely must be regarded as the most important programming language yet developed. -- T. Cheatham