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The Internet The Almighty Buck

BellSouth Will Charge Providers For Performance 594

smooth wombat writes "In a follow-up to this Slashdot story from last month, BellSouth has confirmed that it is in discussions with content providers to levy charges to reliably and speedily deliver content and services of the providers. Bill Smith, chief technology officer at BellSouth justified content charging companies by saying they are using the telco's network without paying for it. "
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BellSouth Will Charge Providers For Performance

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  • Hurn in Bell (Score:3, Informative)

    by FidelCatsro ( 861135 ) * <> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:36AM (#14490537) Journal
    Bell South have just Proven themselves to be a total bunch of useless bas[TT]ards .
    If we pay for an Internet connection , then it us using their lines to connect to someone .. what next charging someone for receiving a phone call .
    Hurn in Bell I say
  • by BrynM ( 217883 ) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:48AM (#14490649) Homepage Journal
    Quite on the contrary, your subscribers are the ones pulling data across your network
    They are talking about the space in the middle. These are the backbone providers. Try doing a tracert to somewhere far. If you're in the US try or vise-versa. These folks are talking about all of those "hops" your data makes getting from say the slashdot server to OSDN to backbone provider to your isp then to you. It's not a single connection downloading a file, it's hundreds of parts taking many paths that get put together on your end. Here's more basic info [] on how that works.
  • Net neutrality? (Score:2, Informative)

    by int14 ( 559258 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:51AM (#14490683) Homepage
    This seems to me to be very much related to all the talk of net neutrality buzzing around. Vint Cerf wrote a good letter that was posted on the Google Blog, check it out: peaks-out-on-net-neutrality.html []
  • Act Now! (Score:2, Informative)

    by faqmaster ( 172770 ) <> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#14490740) Homepage Journal
    Don't wait, tell them what you think about this: Contact BellSouth Internet Services. []
  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Informative)

    by ipfwadm ( 12995 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:57AM (#14490745) Homepage
    They didn't have common carrier status to begin with. Remember this []? The Wikipedia article on common carrier [] also says that ISPs are not generally considered common carriers, and do not wish to be so. Unfortunately, it's a bit thin on the details aside from saying that common carrier status carries "obligations they would rather avoid".
  • Re:There goes (Score:5, Informative)

    by metternich ( 888601 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @11:58AM (#14490751)
    Why do people keep on insisting that ISPs are Common Carriers when they aren't?

    See the damn Wikipedia article []:
    The key FCC Order on this point is: IN RE FEDERAL-STATE JOINT BOARD ON UNIVERSAL SERVICE, 13 FCC Rcd. 11501 (1998), which holds that ISP service (both "retail" and backbone) is an "information service" (not subject to common carrier obligations) rather than a "telecommunications service" (which might be classified as "common carriage").

  • by ivan256 ( 17499 ) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:15PM (#14490916)
    Go check out [].

    I'll wait...

    Back? Good.

    This is a perfect example of what is going to happen here. First, only a few stupid companies will pay Bell South (Even SCO got some takers). Then the content providers will start charging Bell South to allow users of the Bell South internet service to access their web sites. It's already started. The content providers know that they're in charge. There are so many ISPs out there that the ISP needs the content more than the content providers need any single ISP. Bell South will figure this out, or they will lose customers. Once again, the free market works.

    And I bet you were only half serious.
  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:16PM (#14490922) Homepage
    I find this incomprehensible. Right now, Comcast is attacking BellSouth continuously in TV commercials over the incredible speed difference between cable and DSL. Yeah, I'm sure you can find someone with a shitty cable connection, but right now I'm getting 6Mb/s from Comcast. I've seen downloads at night of 850KB/s sustained, and regularly get 500KB/s during the day. They are continuously working to speed up their network and advertise that fact.

    BellSouth is stuck with technology that cannot compete on speed, so their response is to make the speed worse? Only in a monopoly telecom would that make any sense.

    Comcast is also doing an all-out assault on "the dish", which BellSouth pushes as an alternative to cable. I think Comcast is winning that battle, too.

    I'm waiting for the next step where BellSouth tries to buy some legislation to shore up their failing internet business.
  • That's not pay for performance, it's blackmail.

    Exactly! And therein lies the joke. This is a pattern of behavior that has been repeated over and over: Big Oil, Railroad Barons, Shipping Magnates, etc. Some group inside an industry decides that they control access to a resource and they try to get every penny from it they can. Eventually they bang their head against the law, because some one comes along and says "Hey, wait a minute, I'm already paying for that!" It's not blackmail, but extortion [].

  • Peering (Score:5, Informative)

    by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:27PM (#14491028) Journal
    BellSouth charges end-users for network (Internet) access. That is what you're paying those DSL charges for, if you're a BS customer.

    Data that comes from some other network, like MCI or Level 3, is handled thru a peering agreement with that other network.

    Many hosting providers have backbone connections to multiple networks, to make things faster. For example, Gnomovision Co-Lo and Hosting may have direct links to BS, Time Warner, MCI, Level 3 and more. These type of customer shouldn't be affected because they are already paying BS for a link.

    Customers that have to go thru peered links seem to be BS' target. They *should* negotiate this with the peer, not the provider.

    Google, with their rumored "data center in a container", could just drop a container on BS' network and not peer at all. They'd have to pay connect charges, but they would have a direct link to BS' network.

    It seems to me that this would threaten the peering arrangement that makes the Internet function more than anything else.

    Note: In order to complain to the FCC you must be a customer of BS, submit your complaint in writing and include a copy of your telephone bill.

  • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:36PM (#14491095) Homepage Journal

    I understand what you're saying, but it serves no purpose in this conversation.

    When someone in the UK requests something from a US-based webpage (say, for instance, my employer, Virginia Tech), the data goes from Virginia Tech to Sprint, across the ocean, and to the UK service provider, then to the end user. Or, it might go from Sprint to another carrier in Mae East and then across the ocean. Never through Bell South, though.

    This is the entire point of the outrage at this: If your business is almost entirely servicing end users as an ISP (as bellsouth's is), then THE ONLY REASON for data to go across your network is to get to your end users.

    See also: BGP and AS Path-length. Any ISP worth a goddamn isn't going to avertise that their network is an excellent place for bandwidth to be put through; likewise, major backbone routers aren't going to route data through un-needed hops.

    The outrage is due to the fact that probably almost all the data destined INTO bellsouth's network is destined to be delivered to their end users. That transit has already been paid for by the ISP subscribers. If they were charging for data sent across bell south, i.e. Sprintlink -> BellSouth -> Quest -> The UK, then it would be wierd and unethical, but 1.) they're not a backbone, 2.) they're not a common carrier, and 3.) even if they wanted to charge for that, people would just adjust their routing tables to use a different route via prepending the bellsouth ASN's. The internet would move on - it's designed for these kinds of things. However, bellsouth has a monopoly on internet routing destined for their end users, and is therefore trying to leverage that to charge tolls.

    Saying they want to get paid twice for the exact same data going to the exact same places is exactly correct.

  • by rahlquist ( 558509 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:49PM (#14491197) Homepage
    Ivan, your argument misses one fact. In BS territory the majority of connectivity is provided by BS. If BS wants to they can force this upon their resellers as well. So earthlink may take on a whole different flavor down here in the south.
  • by bluekanoodle ( 672900 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @12:54PM (#14491249)
    The issue is at some point, Bellsouth is getting paid already. They don't operate the backbones networks out of the goodness of their heart. And at some point, Bellsouth customers are using other providers backbones. Should those providers start charging Bellsouth a premium to let their traffic on the Network?

    Suscribers are paying for the access already, content providers are paying for their bandwidth, carriers are paying each other to connect to their respective networks, and NOW Bellsouth wants to charge the content providers again? Sounds like double (or triple) dipping to me.

    Unless a carrier operates their own complete network from end point to endpoint, I don't see how it's fair to charge content providers access to the network when at some point, somebody has already paid for that access. Of course lifes not fair, but this could be disruptive enough to the consumer if Bellsouth and then other carriers started doing this, that it should be discouraged.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:20PM (#14491496)
    The first thing you need to do is call and complain. There's nothing that can cause BellSouth to switch gears faster than a bunch of whining customers. This can only work as along as the majority of people allow it to.

    The second thing you need to do is tell everyone you know that's a BellSouth customer and tell them "Don't like it? Call this number and complain". The more that complain the better.

    The third thing you need to do is call your congressional representatives. Sure, they may be corrupt, but if you whine to them, they will whine to business leaders.

    And they say whining doesn't solve anything...
  • by nahdude812 ( 88157 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @01:48PM (#14491744) Homepage
    It's sad, but I find that outcome unlikely. I know that here at work, if this extortion attempt was made in our direction, there is no way we would turn away business by telling our customers that they use an ISP we don't like. If Bell South said, "Pay us $1 per visitor to your site, and you'll get full and fast access to our customer base," we'd do an evaluation of the number of visits we get from BellSouth, and cut them a check the next day.

    It wouldn't be my decision, it would be up to the business, but every customer turned away is a customer lost, as far as most businesses are concerned. If our competition was paying BellSouth and we weren't, we'd definately lose customers to them. Let's say we do $100,000 / month (it's actually more, but I'm not prepared to disclose real figures =)) in sales for 1,000 customers. Let's say that of that, 10% is profit, and BellSouth wants to charge us $1 per customer. We'd be looking at giving up $10 per customer in profit, vs giving up $1 per customer. As sleezy (and potentially illegal) as this deal is, that $9 in un-lost sales would make it worthwhile.

    No, it won't be the content providers that cause this idea to fall apart. It'll be the customers. Personally, I'd be looking for a new ISP today if I had Bell South. When other customers get wind that "accelerated" websites / services are in fact just not crippled, they'll be doing the same.

    Someone will get the idea to start a class action lawsuit, and this'll end it once and for all. As was mentioned elsewhere, the company can only bill once for a given service. They can either choose to bill the end user (the current model), or they can choose to bill the content providers, but not both. In fact, this is no different from them wanting to charge other phone companies every time you receive a call from one. I doubt congress & the legal system will see it any differently. Sadly, when the class action suit settles, and BS goes bankrupt, it'll be our tax dollars that bail them out, while the C*O's walk away with their golden parachutes.
  • Re:Competition? (Score:3, Informative)

    by shambalagoon ( 714768 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @02:22PM (#14492123) Homepage
    I had Bell South internet service once - until I realized they were purposely blocking my router from working. In the same phone call they offered to unblock my router for an extra monthly fee. I quit them immediately.

    I'm still working on getting rid of their $65/month phone bill (doesnt include long distance)

    Bell South is a greedy, awful corporation. I hope this latest attempt hurts them terribly.
  • Re:There goes (Score:3, Informative)

    by Yartrebo ( 690383 ) on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @03:12PM (#14492628)
    I live in NYC, a city with a population density to match anything Europe can offer, and my broadband stinks like offerings anywhere else in the US. It's definitely a political issue, not a technical one.

    Should I consider myself lucky that at least I have access both both DSL and cable, so the companies stay at least a tiny bit competitive?
  • by True Grit ( 739797 ) * <> on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @03:16PM (#14492662)
    That cliche makes no sense at all.

    It isn't supposed to in a literal sense. You can't both possess and consume an item since by consuming it you lose possession, but guess what the "meaning" of the cliche is? It is to say that what you want is impossible, and simultaneously possessing and consuming something is... impossible.
  • Sorry that this is so offtopic. I was simply curious and thought I might ask here:

    Is this how I would block all of the customers from a specific ISP, if I ever wanted to? I'm not sure why I would, but you never do know...

    RewriteEngine on
    Rewritemap bssubnet txt:/stuff/bssubnets.txt

    RewriteCond ${bssubnet:%{REMOTE_ADDR}} ^b$ [NC]
    RewriteCond %{request_uri} !^/your_isp_stinks.html$ [NC]
    RewriteRule .* /your_isp_stinks.html [R,L]

    Also, does anyone know where I can find the list of all subnets that an ISP might have? Especially the business customers.
  • Re:There goes (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @07:09PM (#14495061)
    Some of us don't get a choice but to use bellsouth.
  • Re:There goes (Score:2, Informative)

    by skywire ( 469351 ) * on Tuesday January 17, 2006 @08:13PM (#14495601)
    People keep insisting that ISPs are common carriers because they intuit that ISPs are by nature common carriers, despite the silly US regs that state otherwise. They do in fact provide telecommunications services, not information services. They are like highways or POTS. They simply provide the pipes that we communicate with each other through. If there is any class of utility that should be treated as a common carrier, they are it.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun