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BellSouth Wants to Rig the Internet 559

PlayfullyClever writes "A senior telecommunications executive at BellSouth, said yesterday that Internet service providers should be allowed to strike deals to give certain Web sites or services priority in reaching computer users, a controversial system that would significantly change how the Internet operates. Some say Small Firms Could Be Shut Out of Market Championed by BellSouth Officer. William L. Smith, chief technology officer for Atlanta-based BellSouth Corp., told reporters and analysts that an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc." Next up, well dressed men go door to door collecting their monthly "protection money". 'It sure would be tragic if your users started getting 1500ms ping times, wouldn't it mister dot com?'
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BellSouth Wants to Rig the Internet

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  • They just never quit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SilverspurG ( 844751 ) * on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:33PM (#14160956) Homepage Journal
    "If I go to the airport, I can buy a coach standby ticket or a first-class ticket," Smith said. "In the shipping business, I can get two-day air or six-day ground."
    Or when I go to the library the librarian can charge me an additional fee to use the encyclopedias. Or when he goes to Washington he have his lobbying group slip a few extra G-notes to the proper politicians to have his pet legislation prioritized. Or when enough websites have been scammed in then the next thing will be to start charging users,"Is your 3 megabit connection too slow when loading Slashdot? For an extra fee of $15/mo. we will allow you to prioritize any 5 domains!" It'll be just like returning to the good old days of minute by minute access charges. Always watching the clock wondering if the extra access charge might be worth it and counting the pennies left in the piggy bank to see if there's enough for your son to be able to afford class textbooks, lunch money, and decent network access. Maybe he'll just have to suffer with 20 minute load times for a 3 mb document.

    Of all the low-down dirty extortionist ideas ever hatched. No one's stopping him from using QoS routing right now but what he's proposing is pure opportunistic greed. I suppose it doesn't matter to him--he makes enough money that he can afford to throw away an extra $200/mo. should policies like this ever become commonplace. As for the masses: Let them eat cake!
    • This is merely proof of the Pointy Haired Syndrome: Suits by their nature are not technically competent to make decisions yet they are the ones in charge. This principle applies in every human endeavor. Don't worry, be happy and file a memo...
      • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:41PM (#14161060) Journal
        It isn't an issue of competence, it's an issue of morals and ethics. If I were SEC, I'd be looking into investigating Bell South right about now.
        • But the SEC.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by EmbeddedJanitor ( 597831 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:35PM (#14161633)
          won't go sift through their country club buddy's garbage. What's the point of lobbying?
        • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @07:18PM (#14161926) Journal
          It isn't an issue of competence, it's an issue of morals and ethics. If I were SEC, I'd be looking into investigating Bell South right about now.

          I'll resist the temptation to point out the difference between morals and ethics. (See the movie "Election" starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon for an example.)

          Anyway, the real point here is that the SEC really has nothing to do with policing the morals and ethics of a company. It is reponsible for protecting stock-market investors from unscrupulous companies who try to deceive the stockholders, or who try to manipulate the marketplace for the benefit of insider traders.

          As far as the morality, ethics or (most relevant) the legality of the tarrifs that a communication company charges and their reasons for doing so, I think that falls within the bailiwick of the FCC.
        • by Belseth ( 835595 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @07:35PM (#14162040)
          It isn't an issue of competence, it's an issue of morals and ethics. If I were SEC, I'd be looking into investigating Bell South right about now.

          I totally agree and I'd go a step further, I wonder if it breaches parts of the Richo Act. It definately reeks of mob extortion. It's sad that most big businesses reactions to something new is how can we corrupt it to make a buck. Another one got quietly passed that crippled organic food standards so big business can make money off this lucritive market. I remember when it first got big the top suppliers asked exactly how much pesticide can they use and still call it organic. Well the government finally gave them an answer. They didn't totally cut the heart out but they have left the term organic basically meaningless. Little things like antibiotics and artificial feed can be used on calves so long as they are fed organic before they are butchered. Why it's crime is people are paying a premium for organic foods. The true organic farmers won't be able to compete head to head with the ones cheating. A similar thing will happen here in that people won't realize that the smaller suppliers are being squeezed out. It's yet another sign the wild west days of the internet are coming to a close and it'll wind up eventually another corrupt tool of big business. Enough of the good will remain so most people won't complain but in 20 years the net as it's known today won't exist. It's already more about advertising and sales than content. Spam blew past regular e-mail a while ago and that doesn't include all the advertising. I always say if you want to kill spam and flashing pop up ads never buy what they are selling. If everyone does that the ads will fail and they will disappear. It's the 1% dumb enough to buy from them that keeps the rest of us in misery.

        • by The Angry Mick ( 632931 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @07:43PM (#14162103) Homepage
          It isn't an issue of competence

          Perhaps, but then again I wish Bellsouth were more competent with their basic telephone service before they start mucking about with something as complex as this.

          Let's not forget that the telcos haven't exactly been leading the charge on the technology fronts for quite some time. In fact, about the only time I hear of any "innovative" ideas from a telco, it usually involves a) discovering creative new ways to over-inflate a basic service bill, or b) screwing over customers that are early adopters of a technology the telcos happen to hate.

    • by Pope ( 17780 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:40PM (#14161037)
      That first class ticket doesn't reduce his time in the air though. He arrives the same time as the coach standby folks do.

      Typical thought process for high-end executives who are used to bullying and paying through the nose to get what they want NOW.
      • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:45PM (#14161100) Homepage Journal
        That first class ticket doesn't reduce his time in the air though. He arrives the same time as the coach standby folks do.

        No, but for an extra $500 we won't make you wait an extra half hour to deplane....
      • by Chuckstar ( 799005 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @07:32PM (#14162015)
        The difference is that I am BellSouth's customer, not Yahoo. This is the equivalent of HBO paying a cable company not to carry all of the Showtime channels, and then telling me its good for me because of all the HBO channels I get.
        • by Burz ( 138833 )
          The difference is that I am BellSouth's customer, not Yahoo. This is the equivalent of HBO paying a cable company not to carry all of the Showtime channels, and then telling me its good for me because of all the HBO channels I get.

          Or this is similar to giving large media corps an advantage over P2P (and other independant) traffic. Hollywood will probably love BellSouth for this.

          Someone should spell it out:
          If a server has paid for a certain upstream bandwidth, then end-user ISPs need to ferry that data as qu
    • by ergo98 ( 9391 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:40PM (#14161047) Homepage Journal
      I suppose it doesn't matter to him--he makes enough money that he can afford to throw away an extra $200/mo. should policies like this ever become commonplace. As for the masses: Let them eat cake!

      The telcos have a long and storied history of making money hand over fist, with no competition, in the telephone subscriber realm, so this is just another desperate attempt at doing something before that money trough is removed (it's rapidly disappearing). In a free market it should be the case that subscribers can say "FU!" this this man, going with competitors, but unfortunately there isn't enough competition in most areas yet (so you get the casual collusion where they all mirror the same restrictive policies). Maybe WiMax will change the landscape a bit.
      • by halltk1983 ( 855209 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:42PM (#14161074) Homepage Journal
        hmm... as a side thought... this would make Skype and VoIP useless... maybe that's how they're going to maintain their regional monopolies?
      • so this is just another desperate attempt at doing something before that money trough is removed (it's rapidly disappearing)

        Hey, don't blame the whole industry for the actions of one dumbass PHB. I happen to have a lot of friends working for various telcos that are doubtless rolling their eyes at this bullshit.

        Maybe WiMax will change the landscape a bit.

        That's a nice thought -- but I'm afraid that at one point your WiMax is going to need an uplink to the internet :(

      • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:33PM (#14161614) Journal
        In a free market it should be the case that subscribers can say "FU!" this this man, going with competitors, but unfortunately there isn't enough competition in most areas yet (so you get the casual collusion where they all mirror the same restrictive policies).
        That's the real problem.

        This story reminds me of a funny dispute between CNN and the Amsterdam cable TV company:
        Cable co. "We will start charging you for providing access to your viewers"
        - CNN: "Well, actually you should really pay us, for providing content for your cable network"
        Cable co: "Pay or we will remove CNN from our lineup"
        - CNN: "Fine, we'll take our content elsewhere"

        The cable TV model worked quite well: customers pay the cable company for physical access to various stations. These stations provide content for free, supported by ads, or at an extra charge to the customers. In this case, some idiot exec got greedy and tried to charge both sides of the network. Fortunately, neither side wasn't having any of that. CNN didn't play ball, and customers didn't exactly relish the idea of paying twice for content, and threatened to buy satellite dishes and ditch cable. After a few weeks, CNN was put back onto the network, for free.

        This case is much the same. Over here, we have a choice of backbone networks and ISPs re-selling access to those backbones. Any ISP trying to pull a stunt like this will see their customers melt away. After all, people have gotten used to the idea of flat rate Internet access, in facr that's what ISPs used to lure people over to ADSL.
        However, in cases were there is a monopoly of one or a few companies working together, they can and will get away with it.
    • Of all the low-down dirty extortionist ideas ever hatched.

      I bet he'd stop thinking it was such a great idea the minute he realizes that it would also allow Verizon/Quest/other LECs to "prioritize" his marketing calls to Google and Yahoo into oblivion. Hey, it's not their fault that BellSouth didn't ante up for the "prioritized" voice package.

      Hell, I'm the biggest defender of the traditional POTS/Baby Bells companies around these parts -- and I think this is complete bullshit!

    • Couldn't agree more.

      And this is the problem with using analogies. You can chose which comparisons to make that make your point look good. I don't like it when people start using analogies, I don't see how one situation or circumstance can be used to explain a completely different situation or circumstance. Does anyone else feel me?

      It's like when....

      Just kidding

  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:36PM (#14160984) Homepage Journal
    Would this not take away their status and the protections of common carrier status if they start playing with what/who goes through their system?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oh no! Didn't you read, he made sure to try and sidestep that, he doesn't believe in blocking freedom of speech on the internet (read he doesn't want to be liable when your system gets fucked), he only believes in having control over exactly what he wants you to see first.

      I alwasy thought the people who believed that "upper class, secret society" shit were crazy, but this about seals the deal. Basically they want to eliminate freedom of speech with just a different label. That favorite blog of yours? Oh,
    • They'll just buy a new law that says whatever they want (e.g. we can block, prioritize, de-prioritize, spindle, fold, or mutilate your traffic, but we aren't liable for anything).
    • They should be sued if they ever mention being an "ISP" after pulling this one. TCP/IP doesn't mention different quality of service options based on sponsorship, after all...

      Quick, someone patent the "lovely bit". Just like the evil bit but reserved for sponsored traffic. :)
  • by everphilski ( 877346 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:36PM (#14160989) Journal
    At least you could have removed all the caps in the sentance "Some say Small Firms Could Be Shut Out of Market Championed by BellSouth Officer" and fooled me... sheesh...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    the European Court of Justice would not allow such an arrangement, article 81 is very harsh on vertical arrangements like this.
  • by Poromenos1 ( 830658 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:37PM (#14160994) Homepage
    While we're at it, why don't we just sell the internet to Microsoft or some other big corporation and be done with it?
  • by hazmat2k ( 911198 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:37PM (#14160999)
    I can imagine the new generation of Spam now. "M4K3 YUR S1T3 L04D F4S73R TH4N T3H C0MP371710N"
  • by Profane MuthaFucka ( 574406 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:38PM (#14161010) Homepage Journal
    Bell South is damaged. Adjust your routing tables accordingly.
  • Sure, no problem (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother@oEINSTE ... minus physicist> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:39PM (#14161023) Journal

    As long as ISPs get penalized for every piece of SPAM they allow to float around, for every SPAMmer they allow to operate unhindered using their services, for every shady business or phishing site they allow to run unabated, and when Satan can skate on his swimming pool.

  • Except.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:39PM (#14161026) Homepage Journal
    I pay the isp to access the net. I should get to pick and choose what I access without the ISP boasting some at the expense of others.
    Dear Bell south you are looking a lot like Sony and SCO. Not a good thing.
  • I quickly become a non Bellsouth Customer. Granted right now, I'm using a BS reseller, as are most here in Mobile... but there ARE alternatives, especially when you're not using DSL.
  • by Red Flayer ( 890720 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:39PM (#14161033) Journal
    FTS: "Internet service providers should be allowed to strike deals to give certain Web sites or services priority in reaching computer users, "

    As soon as they do this, then they should become legally responsible for all content that crosses their network.

    Either ISPs are passive conduits, or they are not. If they can easily differentiate between packets from different sources, and filter those packets for different handling procedures, then they can take responsibility for not allowing 'illegal' packets on their network.
  • how great would that be for hosting companies like rackspace. I doubt this would go through... I mean seriously, that proposal would cripple what 80% of the sites out there. This is a perfect example when non-technical people get in positions that require a strong understanding of technology. I'm sure the guy is a good businessman, but hasn't got a clue about technology.

    On another note, historically, every time one of the bell's gets too big for their britches they get broken up... If any of you hold th
  • If an ISP or backbone wants to give up all of its common-carrier rights, including immunity when some l33t haxxor plants death threats to the President or worse on Yahoo, then maybe.

    Otherwise, no.
  • by rocjoe71 ( 545053 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:40PM (#14161038) Homepage
    ...BellSouth could try, but then Google lights up all their dark fiber and take themselves OUT of BellSouth's market altogether, leaving BellSouth to explain to their customers why they should keep paying for a service that doesn't give them easy access to the most popular search engine on the net.

    This would give Yahoo the leverage to say to BellSouth: if you want to have ANY major search engine/portal in your network, better provide unrestricted access to our domain.

    Net result: Google owns their own 'Net, Yahoo pwns BellSouth.

    • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:49PM (#14161153)
      Won't even have to be Google, just their competitors. If some companies start deliberatly breaking their Internet service, you'll see others that will advertise that they don't. The cable company that competes in Bell South's territory will start up with ads like "Our cable modem service is fully optimized so that all sites load at blazing speed. With DSL, non-priority sites can load very slowly, or not at all, but with our service ALL sites are a priority!"

      I mean all the time our cable company and phone company take shots at each other in their TV ads. If a provider is dumb enough to do this, the rest will just eat them alive.
    • Actually, it's like this:

      Bellsouth does this, and Cox Communications and Time Warner Cable, and all the other cable providers use their bully pulpit control of the tv to rake BellSouth over the coals, while at the same time promoting their cable/internet/voip bundles.

      This is one of those places where Bellsouth CANNOT afford to be seen as inferior to the cable providers. I use Bellsouth myself (cheap static IP), but I've got zero customer loyalty, and if Bellsouth does anything APPROACHING this I'll drop the
  • by Jotii ( 932365 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:40PM (#14161042) Homepage
    This Internet will never work. I'm going to start my own.
  • BS already charges for different levels of ISP service. So now they want to charge a fee for the other end. They will use this to finger point the problem to the other end every time. :-)

    • And charging for different levels of ISP service is fine. The CEO makes a good analogy about the shipping and the plane rides, except he doesn't get it quite right. What they are currently doing is analagous to the shipping and first class seats. What he is proposing is not. If I as the consumer want a faster connection to the web, then I will pay for it. But companies should not be allowed to pay more to keep their competitors from providing something to me just as quickly. I.E. Fedex should not be a
  • It could work out for the ISP if there is no other ISP choice for the customers to get equivelent internet access from. Sadly, in many areas of the US, only one high speed provider exists and you are stuck with them no matter what. Given a choice? I don't think people would use an ISP that offered that type of "service".
  • by ArcRiley ( 737114 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:41PM (#14161064)
    ISPs who do this sort of thing will, undoubtedly, be replaced by ISPs which don't. Consumers simply won't tolerate it, nor will web services.

    The only real danger is the growing monopolization of Internet access, through cable and DSL, but yet we watch as wifi-based Internet access spreads and their market crumbles beneith their feet.

    More fuel on the fire, BellSouth, it'll only help speed your own destruction.
    • The one problem is that if I start my own DSL ISP, I have to use the BellSouth backbone. I may not be choosing to give priority to packets, but how do I know that BellSouth hasn't already done it across their entire system?
  • I'd be ok with this, as long as I had the choice not to use an ISP that pulled this kind of baloney. The problem is that often consumers don't have any choice in who can provide their broadband.

    For a long time I completely loathed cable companies, because the only choice consumers had was to have cable or not to have TV at all. This enabled cable companies to treat their customers like trash and laugh at the consumers. The advent of satellite TV dramatically changed how cable companies treat their cust

  • Out of curiosity, if these asshats were to actually have their wet dream come true...what sort of recourse would us regular users have? How far would these changes reach? Would it just screw over whoever was stuck with that particular ISP, or would it affect the entire net?

    More importantly, are there any laws or government bodies that we can bring into effect on our side to make sure this kind of crap never happens?

  • Too many factors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ziggyboy ( 232080 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:45PM (#14161097)

    an Internet service provider such as his firm should be able, for example, to charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc.

    I assume they would want to use some form of QoS to control traffic. However there would be a few problems that would arise from this. Let's say for instance Yahoo uses a seperate backbone from Google. Would this ISP then force Google traffic to slowdown? Or how about if Yahoo has more hops than Google? There are so many factors that affect Internet traffic that for an ISP to fully control them would be quite difficult. On most high-bandwidth ISPs where links hardly get clogged, one would certainly have to force low priority sites to slowdown.

  • We can't get the powers that be to adopt IPv6 and this guy thinks he's going to be able to change routing protocols and charge for priority routes?
  • This is not a troll or flame, I just want to be educated here. Okay, I'll be upfront about it, its a crappy decision to do. It will piss off a lot of people. Fundamentally though whats the problem with letting these ISP's do this? You are paying for their service, they got the right to do whatever they want. If they want to piss off their customers, thats their right. Just let me know upfront that is whats going on, and I'll pick someone who isn't doing this. Its no different than ISP's disconnecting
  • Okay, my gut reaction was, OMGWTFITMT?!?!?

    Then I put a bit more thought in on it. I would be okay with this if it was constantly monitored and I could be absolutely sure that none of the "non-accelerated" site's performance was degraded. Hypothetical: if we get ~100ms pings from both Google and Yahoo now, then Yahoo buys the 'optimization' and Yahoo's ping drops to ~80ms and Google's stays at ~100ms, then I'm fine with this. But if Google's pings start suffering, to say ~110ms, then they are degrading their
  • by jmorris42 ( 1458 ) * <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:48PM (#14161134)
    Listen up BellSouth, I AM YOUR CUSTOMER, not Yahoo! or Google. If you can't give me good access to the sites I am interested in visiting then I switch to Cox's cable modem. And if they can't show me the speed I crave then I look for other options.

    This is exactly what happens when governments grant monopolies. BellSouth has been taking their customers for granted since they spun away from the AT&T motnership, which also took us for granted. After all, where can we really go? Like most regions of the US with broadband, we have government monopoly A (BellSouth) or government monopoly B (Cox) and while they can be played off one another just a little, they co-own the Louisiana Public Service Commission that makes the rules and aren't above conspiring together to keep their cost down and the users downtrodden.

    The baby bells must be broken again. They can keep the monpoly on the copper or fiber but must NOT be permitted to own or operate any of the higher level protocols or have any business entanglements with anyone who does. I'm serious, we need a seperate company that JUST owns and maintains the physical plant and leases space on a totally non-discrimnatory basis in the CO to as many companies that want to install voice switches, DSLAMS, etc. as can fit into the building.... and have rules so a carrier can even pay to make the building bigger.
  • Monopolosaurus Rex (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:48PM (#14161138) Homepage Journal
    Everyone said for decades that phone companies "don't understand the Internet". They understand it all right - they just don't like it. So now we've got SBC saying they want to charge companies like Google to route their traffic, even if Google is already paying another company to which Google is directly connected. And BellSouth is saying they want to charge companies like Google more to carry their traffic according to the specifications. Verizon (rhymes with "NYNEX"), typically the most evil of the RBOCs, has yet to announce their vicious attack on Google's profits, but it surely will be greedy and based on some kind of preferential treatment - or threat of witholding it.

    It's obvious that these telcos are jealous of Google and the big bucks connected with it. They want their cut, not by competing to provide better products, but by threatening to make their products worse unless their extortion money is paid. Back in the 1990s, they tried to force extra fees on dialup customers, on ISPs, based on lies about phone switch capacity. They tried selling ISDN from clueless salespeople for ripoff prices after unpredictable and interminable installation delays. Then they screwed up DSL deployment on a bigger scale. All along they succeeded in buying up and regulating out the competition, while everyone said they didn't understand the Internet. Which diverted investment to companies like Google, as well as the smart entrepreneurs. Now that they've consolidated American bandwidth into the bottlenecks that they monopolize, these old dinosaurs are moving in for the kill. If there's not enough competition to let Google and mom/pop choose an equitable Internet like the one we've built these last 10-20 years, we need to snap the neck of their new monopolies with legislation. There's no reason we have to let their loophole victories over past monopoly remedies and market corrections choke off the developments that have happened despite their vile presence in the landscape.
  • charge Yahoo Inc. for the opportunity to have its search site load faster than that of Google Inc."

    So you if you want to know where the first google wireless [] service areas will be, you just have to find high concentrations of Bell-South customers.
  • This guy seems to have his notion of the customer backwards. Google isn't a BellSouth customer. BellSouth's customers are the users who buy their DSL lines. Duh. Anyway, the really big picture is this: Google could take over BellSouth with the spare change in their couch. Does anyone who pays attention to the stock market think that Google would have a hard time raising 50 billion dollars if they wanted it? I don't.
  • Fifty-fifty (Score:5, Funny)

    by trollable ( 928694 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:51PM (#14161174) Homepage
    I think they should do it. Cut the bandwidth. 50% for the web, 50% for gopher.
  • by DaveJay ( 133437 )
    So they can charge the users, or charge the corps.

    Say they charge the have to tell them at some point in order to charge them (probably after they sign a contract) and you'll have angry users and lawsuits and nonsense -- or people will just sign up with other ISPs who advertise unlimited full speed access to all sites.

    So that's a non-starter.

    Say they charge the corporations...the users don't have to know, so the corporations with the big bucks may very well pony up the cash, because they'll suff
  • And Americans don't understand why the rest of the world doesn't want the USA to be running Internet.
  • by netrangerrr ( 455862 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @05:57PM (#14161263) Homepage
    Vint Cerf (Father of the Internet) sent a deposition to the US Congress on this legislation. See: ut_on_internet_neutrality/ []

    Vint couldn't attend in person since he was recieving the Presidential Medal of Freedom that day for his DARPANET/Internet pioneering efforts.
    This link was widely disseminated in the North American IPv6 Task Force and IPv6 Forum where I believe most members strongly support Vint's views.
  • by mgpeter ( 132079 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:06PM (#14161371) Homepage
    In the real world, if you create a good product or provide good information, you have the opportunity to make lots of money.

    If the Internet was similar to the real world, all Internet Providers would be paying content producers money for the information the Internet Provider's customers use.

    Unfortuately, with the Internet - it is opposite. Say you have a really good site and you gather quite a bit of traffic, unfortunately you pay your Internet provider by the megabytes of traffic your visitors use. A good slashdotting could bankrupt you - all because your providing good information.

    If you want to listen to an excellent interview of how the Internet came to be how it is today, Nerd TV's interview with Brester Kahle (Internet Archive Founder) is definately worth a listen. 4&ext=mp3 []

  • by Logic Bomb ( 122875 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:15PM (#14161446)

    If a major ISP ever did this, I don't think it would take long for popular sites to start filtering for their IP space and redirecting to an informative page about the lousy ISP.

    Thanks for attempting to visit our site! BellSouth, your internet service provider, is attempting to extort money from web sites like this one in exchange for not slowing down your access to it. Consequently, we have blocked access to our site from BellSouth's network. If you want BellSouth to play fair, call...

    Picturing the bedlam in the call center is making me smile.

  • Naturally (Score:4, Interesting)

    by max born ( 739948 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:20PM (#14161505)
    Docs Searls of Linux Journal wrote an interesting piece a few weeks called Flushing the Net Down the Tube [] where he talks about this happening.

    The providers don't want to be just the guys that rent the pipes because there's not enough money in it. They'd like to be able to control content and charge for extra services. Sprint's music downloads [] is an example where this is already happening. (You can get highspeed music downlads but only through their vendor lock-in service.)

    According to Searls' article the providers have watched companies like ebay and google make fortunes on the Internet using their pipes. They feel left out and want to get in on the action. Expect more of this.
  • by Dr_Ish ( 639005 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:24PM (#14161533) Homepage
    Bellsouth already have some rather 'dubious' business practices. For instance, the City in which I live has proposed that our local (City owned) utility company will provide fiber in the home to all our residents. Bellsouth have been raising every type of spurious legal claim possible to try and block this measure, even though it was widely supported in a referendum (forced by Bellsouth!). Currently, Bellsouth provides DSL service in this area and Cox provides cable. It is a basic duopoly. Needless to say, the rates are much higher than elsewhere. Earthlink does provide cheaper service. However, one can only use Earthlink if one has local telephone service guessed it,...Bellsouth. My phone service is provided by AT and T. They cannot provide DSL service, because it is blocked guessed it, Bellsouth. I complained about this situation to the FCC. However, the day after I lodged my complaint, the FCC made a ruling saying it was just fine for Bellsouth to behave this way. So, these new 'ideas' from Bellsouth appear to be part of their on-going plans to hold on to their near monopoly situation. I think that it stinks. I cannot wait for the city fiber to arrive at my house.
  • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:27PM (#14161569) Homepage
    A traffic prioitization service already exists. It's Akamai's whole business model: They buy pipes to strategic locations with many service providers, cache servers near the customer and route requests to the best-choice server. You buy space on their servers and your data gets to the customer faster.

    What Mr Smith wants to do is, well, asinine. He wants to allow the data pipes on his network to fill to 100% and then prioritize the traffic based on who pays. This suggests such a flawed understanding of the technology that as the chief technology officer, he should be fired.

    See, here's the problem: For a router to make a priority-based switching decision between packets, it has to have more than one packet cached in memory waiting for free space in the outgoing pipe. But, if you havn't started transmitting the first packet by the time the second packet finishes arriving then you've already lost the speed game. Fast service means that you don't hold on to the packets. You send them out the next link as soon as you get them. Any other architecture would result in transmission speeds that are two to three times slower, even for the highest priority packets! Duh!

    So if you don't want your network to suck rocks, you still have to keep the utilization below 80%, and if you keep the utilization down then except for rare bursts of traffic the prioritization function will never be used.

    As a search engine, why on earth would I buy priority on your network knowing that either A) it almost never gets used or B) your network is piss slow either way? Answer: I wouldn't.

    Fire Mr. Smith. He doesn't understand the technology he's charged with overseeing.
  • I'm all for it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:30PM (#14161594)
    This sounds like a great idea. The moment they start looking at every packet that crosses their network, they will be responsible for every illegal activity. Every person that is on their network that gets a virus should sue them. Every piece of kiddie porn should warrant a case against them. If they are stupid enough to give up their Common Carrier status for a few bucks, they should be sued out of existance so that someone can come in that actually serves the customers, rather than screws them.
  • by Somegeek ( 624100 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:34PM (#14161628)
    I'm sure the Bells have been paid back many times over for their investments in building out the infrastructure, and for which they were given monopolies. Lets organize a law to create state agencies that get to take over and maintain the phone and cable lines and poles and conduits for a monthly utility fee, just like happens with highways or other city run utilities. If companies want to run their own fibre after that, great, let them.

    It would need to be clear that this is a critical national infrastructure and was critical that it be maintained and upgraded. There would be grants from an appropriate Federal agency to assist with this, much like they assist with highway and other projects today.

    This would even the playing field between providers of all types and remove all of the conflicts of interest. Heck, while we are at it, lets take back the power lines too, let the government be responsible for distribution of power and let power companies actually compete on supply and service.
  • by jayhawk88 ( 160512 ) <> on Thursday December 01, 2005 @06:44PM (#14161709)
    ...I wonder why he doesn't try it on his phone systems first?

    "Hello, Coca-Cola? Yeah, listen, I just wanted you to know that we just cut a new deal with Pepsi, that gives their phone calls priority on our systems. Yeah, it's an exclusive deal and all. Basically my engineers tell me that any call of yours routed through our systems will receive a 10% degredation in signal quality and experience approximately a 3 second delay in connection. I'm sure you understand, just the cost of doing business and all. If you're interested, perhaps I can tell you about our new Super Platinum plan, which would give your calls Level 2 High Priority, ensuring that....hello?"
  • Let 'em (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scronline ( 829910 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @07:06PM (#14161851) Homepage
    Then all the Small ISPs that don't do that crap will start taking their customers away because they're tired of paying the same price for slower and unreliable service....oh wait, they're doing that now. Guess that's why I've gown 15% in the past 6 months.
  • by TallMatthew ( 919136 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @08:00PM (#14162203)
    Introducing latency is easy to do with an OpenBSD box but core routers don't have sufficient buffers to hold traffic for more than a few dozen milliseconds, if that. Unless they plan to drop packets which is entirely evil. If they do plan to deploy a latency-introducing device across their network, I assume they'll have to do it at the edge, which for a network that size won't be cheap.

    Jerks. Pure corporate jealousy.

  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Thursday December 01, 2005 @09:20PM (#14162588) Homepage Journal
    and mr. Bell South Bigwig should have a little visit from one of Washington's finest.

    particularly if his little plan interferes with DHS/FBI/m-o-u-s-e plans to get in line first and look over everything else that moves by. that little project never seems to go away, and always seems to have priority over what the moneygrubbers want to do....

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"